Working to avoid conflict at community levels, UNMISS and partners held a one-day peace and conflict resolution forum today in Malek-Alel in Aweil South County, Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State.
In opening remarks, County Commissioner Jel Mangok Yel commended local chiefs for positive roles they had played in previous incidents which could have led to conflict.
“Last month very unfortunate incidences happened here in Aweil South, but they were settled at early stages,” the commissioner said, noting that these had included the murders of a family member, child and prisoner.
“You intervened and convinced the relatives of those victims not to take revenge, and now the legal procedures are ongoing,” Mr. Mangok said.
Ajak Paramount Chief Ayom Akol Wek accused the international community of manufacturing guns used in communal and political conflict in South Sudan. “We are very young … nation. We do not make guns.”
UNMISS’S Civil affairs Officer Luise Pereze told the forum that the UN was neutral in the current conflict and committed to convince both parties to bring peace to the country.
“That is why Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, was here last week,” Mr. Pereze said. “He talked to the president, Salva Kiir, and also to (opposition leader) Riek Machar before they went to Addis Ababa (for peace talks).
“This move might be one of the reasons why the two parties signed an agreement to commit themselves to the cease fire,” he added.
Forum participants recommended forming a peace committee to resolve disputes within the county as well as with neighboring areas, provision of basic services to reduce conflict over resources and a workshop on customary court jurisdictions to empower community leaders.
Aweil South County communities have suffered recent border conflicts with Aweil East County and Aguok Community in Gokrial West of Warrap State.
Some 40 participants, including paramount and executive chiefs, women and youth as well as representatives of local administration, civil society, law enforcement agencies, participated in the forum.