By Abraham Agoth
WAU, 21 September 2012 [Gurtong] - “This peace centre is enduring testimony to what cooperation among neighbors can achieve,” Northern Bahr el-Ghazal Acting Governor Madut Dut Yel told representatives of the Dinka Malual of Northern Bahr El-Ghazal and Rizeigat of Southern Darfur at the opening.
“You can fight with your mother, father, brother and even your neighbor, but after all this, people sit down and talk,’’ he said.
He said that the Rizeigat were able to do this even when the roads between South Sudan and Sudan were closed.
The centre was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by AECOM International. Several officials from UNMISS, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the state government attended the opening ceremony.
UNMISS State Coordinator Seth Kumi said the peace centre located in the northern part of the state near the Sudan-South Sudan border, would be vital in developing positive cross-border relations among communities of the two countries.
“This is an example how of communities living on either side of the border can work together to achieve a common goal of conflict prevention and mitigation,” he said.
The State High Court headed by appointed president with jurisdiction over cases at state level, is principal state court. There is also the Court of Appeal with jurisdiction for four states of former Bahr el Ghazal Region (Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes and Warrap states) with main office in Lakes State.
State High Court and county courts deliver rulings based on conventional law. County courts can also issue rulings based on customary/traditional law. Payam (district) and boma (town area) courts are run by chiefs, who exercise customary law.
As a mostly homogeneous community with one predominant political party and tribe, Northern Bahr el Ghazal is generally said to be the most peaceful state in South Sudan, with no inter-tribal and communal conflicts.
There is also cooperation with the Rizeigat and Misseriya Arab nomads, who bring their animals to graze in the state during the dry season. This is maintained mainly by signing of peace agreements between host communities and nomads.
Currently, however, the security situation is unpredictable because of general insecurity in the border area with military build-ups by both Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
There were aerial attacks in Aweil North in April which led to the displacement of thousands of people.
UNMISS has assisted with several peace conferences between the Dinka, Rizeigat and Misseriya, which have been successful in eliminating inter-communal conflicts. The mission continues to engage the state government and other partners on issues of peaceful co-existence. Local partners pass these messages down to grassroots communities.
Several peace accords were signed this year between Dinka Rezeigat and Messiriya tribes of Southern Kordofan through the initiation of UNMISS and Northern Bahr el Ghazal government.
UNMISS has been tasked with supporting the South Sudanese government in preventing, mitigating and resolving conflict as well as protecting civilians.