Rival communities in Tonj North County agree to end violent conflict

Feuding communities from the areas of Kirik, Rualbet, Awul, Pagol and Manalor in Tonj North County have unanimously resolved to end the violence that over the years has claimed hundreds of lives.

“We have wasted a lot of our time fighting, and this is the time to stop,” said Paramount Chief Mabior Parek, speaking at a two-day dialogue in Kuajok, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. “We have rule of law institutions in place and families who feel aggrieved can seek justice there.”

The 30 participants, including chiefs, local authorities, youth and women, said that they are tired of insecurity and tense relations between communities. Renowned youth leader Ayii Cho Deng was one of them who voiced his fatigue and issued a stern warning to potential troublemakers.

“I have attended so many peace conferences, but this should be the very last one. Whoever plays around with our peace this time round should be handed over to the government and dealt with,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of local women, Ms. Alok Kuot identified what she believes to be one of the root causes behind the violence that has persistently ruined community relations: the proliferation of arms among civilians.

“How is it possible that arms seem to be available to everyone? They destroy our country. It is a gun that makes a thief steal. I am calling on my government to take the arms away from our youth because they create disorder,” she said.

Peter Paduol Mangong, Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies in Warrap State, commended the dialogue and the new agreement to coexist peacefully. For harmony to prevail, he said, communities need to identify and report criminals.

“If this peace agreement is to hold, we must not harbour criminals. Your government stands ready to hold them accountable,” the Minister said.

Representatives from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and other peace partners are cautiously optimistic that the time for durable peace in the area has finally come.