Home | News    Sunday 23 July 2006

Lou and Jikany Nuer tribes declare peace

July 22, 2006 (ADDIS ABABA) — Chiefs of the Lou and Jikany Nuer yesterday declared an end to 14 years of conflict at a meeting in Addis Ababa attended by representatives from both the Ethiopian and Southern Sudanese Governments and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

The meeting was arranged at short notice yesterday after the groups made unexpected progress at a gathering of over 300 African pastoralists near Yabello, southern Ethiopia, the UN OCHA said in a press statement.

Speaking during the talks at the UN headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Jikany Nuer elder, Gatkuoth Kuam, said that the UN OCHA-PCI Regional Pastoralist Gathering had been crucial in providing an initial opportunity for both sides to air their issues.

Lou Nuer Chief, Mayoul Bumetet, acknowledged that peace agreements had failed in the past but said the support of the Southern Sudanese Government, formed last year, would make a difference. He added his belief that this meeting would bring peace.

“The Government of Ethiopia has been championing peace, but it has been hampered by the absence of a government on the other side,” added Kuam. “I believe that peace needs all of us to be involved, governments and communities.”

The fighting has claimed thousands of lives and forced many more to flee their homes.

“We have been killing each other for many years,” said Jikany Nuer elder, Thor Bul. “We were obsessed with robbing each other, taking our own brother’s cattle, eager for each other’s property. People came at night to kill women and children.”

The South Sudan Government recently began a campaign of disarmament aimed at establishing control of the lawless border region.

“I have seen with my eyes that the youth have been disarmed,” said Deng Alkot of the Lou. “The message is that the place is free now. It is a message to my brother to go home. If the guns had not been taken then this discussion would be useless.”

Southern Sudanese Government representative, Arop Deng, said that the conflict had negatively impacted the economies of both groups and that the border economy could be strengthened by the peace agreement.

The groups will now cement the peace in Tiergol near Akobo on the Sudan/Ethiopia border, where much of the fighting took place.