EES citizens call on an end to the current border conflicts as they peacefully demonstrate across the State [©Gurtong/ Peter Lokale]
By Peter Lokale Nakimangole
TORIT, 19th April 2012 [Gurtong]
They are evidently complaining that SAF forcedly enter and destabilize South Sudan in order to occupy its territorial vicinities. They asked the UN Security Council to facilitate an immediate return to the negotiation table.
Across the 8 Eastern Equatoria State counties, several peaceful demonstrations were held between 16th and 17th April in every county’s capital town including Payams’ Headquarters, the respective county commissioners especially the Kapoeta South County commissioner, Hon. Martin Lorika Lojam confirmed to Gurtong over telephone.
Similarly, all the counties held the same event in support of the decision taken by President Salva Kiir to refuse the withdrawal of South Sudanese forces at the contested oil rich area of Heglig.
Peter Lokeng Lotone, the county commissioner of Ikwoto commented that, “if we struggled to attain the independence of our country, who are we to surrender it again. We still aim at liberating our sisters and brothers in Sudan in line with late Dr. John Garang’s dream.”
EES citizens alongside their top state leaders including civil society organizations staged a non-violent demonstration which urged the UN to instantly intercede in the ongoing fierce confrontations between South Sudan’s forces and Sudan’s forces.
The procession which included the State Legislative Assembly’s Speaker, MPs, the cabinet, civil servants, civil society organizations, pupils, students began at the SPLM state secretariat offices in Torit town down to the state secretariat premises where the Governor addressed them together with a representative from civil society organizations who read a note.
The South Sudanese was angered by the acts being committed by elements in Sudan and consequently urged its national army Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA) to repulse the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in order to defend the country’s territory.
Several banners were displayed by individuals, groups and different ministries/units including those by students from different schools condemning the continued attacks.
While addressing the press shortly after the procession the EES Speaker Hon. Emmanuel Ambrose Ocholimoi strongly called on UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to withdraw his statements and to also ask Khartoum to withdraw its forces from South Sudan’s territories.
Equally the Education Minister Hon. Michael Lopuke Lotyam appealed to the demonstrators to continue with the peaceful and diplomatic processions.
As a response to the continuing bombardments, last Tuesday the UN website published the Secretary General's petition while expressing his deep concern over the continuing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan; including the impact of the conflict on civilians, and urged both sides to cease fighting and ensure the safety of the population.
Ki-moon stressed that the Government of South Sudan must withdraw its troops immediately from Heglig and use legal and diplomatic measures to address the status of the town. He also called on the Government of Sudan to immediately end all aerial bombardment of South Sudanese territory.
His statement called on both parties to end the fighting immediately and to respect international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians as issued by his spokesperson.
It added that the Secretary-General is “alarmed” over reports received this weekend of the build-up of armed militia in the disputed area of Abyei, which is in violation of the 20 June Agreement in which the parties committed themselves to the immediate withdrawal of all armed elements from the area.
Mr. Ki-moon urged the two nations to recommit themselves to resolving all the outstanding issues through a peaceful dialogue so as to open a way to convene the presidential summit that had been planned earlier as soon as possible.
The UN chief has asked the two Presidents; Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan to fulfil their obligations to maintain peace and stability in both countries.
In his statement, he also called on the Government of Sudan to ensure the full and immediate withdrawal of its forces from the area.