Lakes state, News

Rumbek communities agree to coexist

By Yang Ater Yang

Five communities of the Dinka Agar have agreed to Promote peaceful coexistence and share resources without discrimination.

This resolution was reached after a five-day pre-migration dialogue conducted in Rumbek aimed at discussing ways to stop cattle theft and violence, including sexual violence by youths, ending conflict-inciting songs, and illegal alcohol brewing at community borders.

Rumbek North County Commissioner Samuel Mabor Deng forum focused on addressing these issues and promoting understanding among the Pakam community.

Mr. Mabor said they will implement the resolutions resulting from the meeting to promote peace and harmony within the community.

“If you encounter any issues within Lakes State, it is recommended that you reach out to the local government authorities in the area rather than trying to solve the problem alone or within a particular community. The government of Lakes State is committed to preventing confusion, criminal activities, killings, thefts, and cattle exchanges, which have become a problem in various counties, particularly Rumbek North, Rumbek Center, and Cueibet. Therefore, we encourage you to come directly and explain your problem to the relevant authorities, whether it is a cattle issue or any other misunderstanding,” he stated.

The commissioner further stated that will deploy forces to address cattle thefts in areas where they hide.

“We have to cooperate, and we don’t want any conflicts and we are even to the time when problems are happening like December, January and February. We must make sure we have to bring all the community together in order to have total peace in Lakes State and neighboring states.”

The Peace Canal Area Coordinator for greater Rumbek, Gordon Majuec Ayen explained where they started the dialogue.

“We began in Aliamtoc 1 and then relocated to Aliamtoc 2. On September 12th, 2023, we held a pre-migration discussion at the Akon-buoi cultural center with the Kuei community. On September 14th of the same year, we also had a pre-migration discussion with the Rup community regarding their cattle. As of today, September 18th, 2023, we have completed negotiations with the Pakam community,” he reported.

He said during the five days, the discussions on protection from cattle, how pastoralists can distance their cattle from crops and the issue of alcoholism, which has been a catalyst for cattle raiding, thefts and intra-communal conflicts, as most members have cultivated extensively this year.

Gender-based violence towards women, girls, boys, and children, as well as conflicts over community resources like grazing areas, cattle camps, and water points, were among the issues faced by the Agaar community, he added.

“The question is how can they restore their traditional ways of sharing and coexisting peacefully, and rebuild the social connections and solidarity among them?”

As part of their resolutions, the community has agreed to completely ban alcoholism. They do not want women and girls to continue brewing alcohol, as it has been identified as a major cause of conflicts.

The cattle thieves must be reported, apprehended, and handed over to the government for punishment.

It is recommended that the government continue with the voluntary removal of guns from civilians, as they do not require them to avoid returning to any conflicts.

Additionally, there have been suggestions from various communities, such as Pakam, Rup, Kuei, and Gok, to initiate a dialogue surrounding the issue of cattle theft.

Mr. Mabor added that the communities have requested peace partners to arrange a peace dialogue within the next 2-3 months regarding cattle thefts and the community at the border to come together and devise strategies to completely eradicate the vice and promote exchange.

The Mayom and Malek representatives from five subsections of the RUP community agreed to hold discussions aimed at resolving internal issues and promoting peaceful coexistence.

“The Agaar community has agreed to peaceful coexistence and sharing of resources, and they do not wish to return to their previous ways. These types of resolutions are commonly agreed upon by the community,” he said.

Mathiang Ater Chirgol-naam, the paramount chief of the Pakam community in Rumbek North County, stated that women who brew alcohol should be arrested and punished with a fine and a six-year prison sentence without bail.

Manyiel Lieny, the executive chief of Alor Payam of Rumbek North County said ” We don’t want another person to die as a result of our internal conflicts, we want to unite and become strong.”

He also added that they have a law that calls for amputation as punishment for cattle theft.

“Starting today, we have all agreed to speak in unity. We have surrendered everything to God and wish to return to our ancestral homes in Maper. When we were in Maper, we did not have any issues and lived peacefully. If anything happened, we addressed it together. Our desire is to go back to our respective ancestral homes and live there.”

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