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LEER - 29 Nov 2019

Panyijiar and Mayendit communities hold peace dialogue in Leer

A women's leader speaks during an UNMISS-supported peace conference in Leer. (UNMISS photo)
A women's leader speaks during an UNMISS-supported peace conference in Leer. (UNMISS photo)

A peace conference held between the communities of Mayendit in Southern Liech and opposition-held Panyinjiar has concluded this week with calls for peaceful coexistence between the feuding neighbours.

The meeting held in Leer resolved to form a joint security force of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) that will patrol hot-spot areas that are affected by revenge killings and cattle raids.

The two sides have agreed to form a joint court to try all criminal cases.

Gordon Chieng Mayom, Paramount Chief of Panyijiar County, said: “We will work hard to improve the security of our people”.

The community leader pointed out that they have agreed to resume their normal relationship.

Organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division in Bentiu, the event brought together about 80 participants, including community leaders, women, government officials, youth, and military representatives from both the government and the SPLA-IO forces.

The paramount chief of Mayiendit County, John Kuneng Kueth, appealed to the people of the two communities to give peace a chance.

Chief Kuneng asked the communities to put their differences aside and unite. “It is better for us to forget what happened between us in the past. Let us work together to stop all criminal activities including the revenge and cattle raids which are harmful to our society,” he said.

The discussions at the meeting were co-facilitated by SPLM-IO Advisor for Peace and Reconciliation, George Gatloi Koang and Southern Liech State Advisor for Peace and Reconciliation, Peter Gatkuoth Chuol. 

“It is the responsibility of the leaders to promote peace, unite the divided communities, and provide good security to the citizens. We will work closely with the communities to make sure that they implement what they have agreed upon,” said George Gatloi Koang.

“A peace conference like this will help our people to resolve their differences through peaceful means. As the community, let us use dialogue to resolve our problems. You [must] stop the revenge killings and cattle raiding. With peace everything will be available,” Gatkuoth said encouragingly.  

Elizabeth Hammond, an UNMISS Civil Affairs Officer in Bentiu, urged participants to implement the conference resolutions in letter and spirit.

“The community leaders can initiate the process with community sensitization and exchange visits as mentioned in the resolution,” she said, suggesting some of the ways such implementation can happen.

“We would serve as a monitoring mechanism to ensure that progress is made in the implementation of the peace activities,” she added.