Peace Conference Held for Feuding Greater Kapoeta Communities

In a bid to end the widespread conflicts between the three pastoralist communities of Buya, Didinga and Toposa from the greater Kapoeta,the Southern Sudan Peace Commission(SSPC) in conjunction with the Eastern Equatoria State Government and GoSS held a peace conference in Lauro payam in Budi County.

By Peter Lokale Nakimangole

The conference ended on Monday, 21 September and was attended by representatives from the three communities that have been involved in cattle raids and killings of innocent civilians.

The SSPC chairperson Brigadier General Louis Lobong Lojore said the three ethnic communities unanimously agreed to live harmoniously.

He said the conference ended successfully despite initial fears of its collapse following a disagreement between the three sides.

“The conference proceeded following fruitful discussions between the Eastern Equatoria State Deputy Governor Echom Ekeno and community elders and my personal support”, said Brigadier General Lobong.

During the conference, Brigadier General Lobong, appealed to all the sides to let go of their past grudges and hatred and urged them to embrace forgiveness.

He pledged police reinforcement through the establishment of a police station in Lauro.

He said the issue of the demarcation of local boundaries between the communities were not meant to be handled by the local leaders but would be handled by the Government of Southern Sudan.

He sent his condolence to the families of those who died in a car accident while traveling along the Kapoeta South-Ngauro road for the peace and reconciliation conference last week.

Sources told Gurtong the lorry in which the delegation was traveling lost controlled and overturned, killing five people on the spot and leaving 15 with serious injuries.

The slightly injured were rushed to the Catholic Diocese of Torit Hospital in Kapoeta South County while those who sustained serious injuries were taken to Uganda for specialised treatment.

“These people were peacemakers whose sole intention was to go and make peace among the three tribes in order to save lives”, said Brigadier General Lobong in his written speech.

Participants said the three communities finally opened up to ask the Government to recognise their internal traditional boundaries which they described as “indispensable obligation to be observed by ourselves in order to mitigate the increasing mistrust arising from suspicion of land encroachment by any community”.

They also disclosed that the three communities had appealed to the Government to expedite equitable construction of dams in a bid to combat the current drought.

The three communities recommended an improvement in the road and communication networks across their territories, citing the Kapoeta-Ngauro-Chukudum road and the re-opening of the Lorus (Natinga) - Miji road and elimination of all illegal roadblocks.

They also recommended community sensitisation and mobilisation against warlike and anti-social behaviour among the three communities especially youth warriors who engage in bloody violence.

The communities called for the identification, arrest and punishment of unruly and disobedient youth who involve in criminal activities such as rape, destruction of farms and cattle rustling.

They also agreed to revive the dormant   joint peace centres such as Miji, Ngauro, Kamulach, Kaliba, Namorunyang, Nawoyapaka and Lochorkanyatom and to form ad hoc peace committees to expedite the returning of any stolen cattle to the rightful owners.

“Let us call a spade a spade by totally condemning this issue of cattle rustling and land disputes that have claimed people’s lives. I think it has reached a time when we have to dispose all the illegally owned weapons and surrender to the Government to pave way for peace amongst ourselves”, said the Kapoeta South County Commissioner Marko Lokitoe.

The peace meeting was attended by key state government officials, representatives from SSPC, the Presidential Advisor on Peace and Reconciliation Ismail Konyi, Eastern Equatoria State Assembly members, County Commissioners and chiefs from the three communities resident in Khartoum and Juba.



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