By Jino Wilson
In a move towards peace and reconciliation, Budi County communities of Eastern Equatoria State have pledged to stop hiding suspects involved in cattle theft and road ambushes.
This commitment comes ahead of a peace dialogue scheduled for mid-February between Budi and Ikoto counties.
Community leaders, youths, women, and elders participated in consultative meetings organized by Rood of Generations.
Simon Lokwara, representing the youth’s constituency, acknowledged past practices of hiding suspects and the harm it caused innocent civilians during government operations.
“We need to validate our pledges by not hiding criminals whenever we are asked to identify them, and by doing this we shall have a relative peace,” said Mr. Simon.
“Enough is enough to say no more hiding of criminals in our community,” he declared.
“If there is insecurity, there is no development. If there is peace, there is always development. Let us embrace peace,” Mr. Simon appealed.
The community emphasized the need to embrace alternative livelihoods like agriculture and denounce cattle raiding and ambushes.
For his part, the area Member of Parliament representing Budi County at state assembly Hon. Julius Amin urged youths to desist from the business of Cattle raiding and road ambushes.
He further described cattle thefts as an awful activity prohibited by the law.
MP Amin, warned against resistance and potential disarmament if cattle raiding persists.
“Cattle thefts are an awful activity prohibited by the law. Let us change our attitude. We can’t use cattle theft to be our best options for livelihood,” Hon. Amin advised.
Meanwhile Afula Rose, a Budi County resident criticized community for being adamant on peace.
She called on Gov’t and partners dealing with education to help in construction of a boarding school along Kidepo valley in order to bridge neighboring communities.
“If the Gov’t can listen to our cry including partners to support us with a boarding school where both children from Ikotos and Budi Counties could come and study together in the same school. This cattle theft will stop,” said Rose.
On his part, administrator of Lotukei Payam Budi County Mr. Arkanjelio Loyaka who also attended pre-consultation peace meeting further reiterated on peaceful existence.
The Payam administrator stressed the link between peace and development.
The consultative meetings were held in Betalado, Lorema and Piobokoi bomas of Lotukei and Homiri payams in an effort to seek community views on the upcoming peace and reconciliation conference to be convened in February in the location yet to be confirmed
This pledge by the Budi County community marks a hopeful step towards lasting peace and reconciliation in the region.