South Sudan

Government signs peace agreement with armed group in Western Equatoria

16 November 2015 - The South Sudanese government today signed a preliminary peace agreement with an armed group, the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM), in Yambio, Western Equatoria State.

Commonly known as “Arrow Boys”, the SSNLM started the armed movement with allegations that people from the Greater Equatoria region were not given equal rights to others and that there was no justice for atrocities committed in the state.

SSLNM Commander Victor Wanga, who signed on behalf of the armed group, said they had not “entered the bush” to fight but rather to raise an alarm to get the government to listen to them and address their grievances.

He added that Equatorians had been complaining but there were no positive responses.

A high-level delegation from the National Council of States led by Victor Edward Danda represented the government at the signing ceremony, which was witnessed by Bishop Edward Hiboro of Tombura Yambio Diocese and officials from the UNMISS Civil Affairs Division.

Bishop Hiboro, who is also the chief mediator between the two parties, described the agreement as a significant step towards ending hostilities in the state.

“This is a milestone today to see that the two parties from the Government and South Sudan National Liberation Movement have signed a preliminary peace agreement to end the suffering of the citizens of Western Equatoria State,” he said.

He commended both the youth and the government for taking “the bold decision” to choose and promote peace over war in South Sudan.

In the document which was signed, the youths demanded that killing innocent Equatorians without justice must stop.

The group called for appreciation and acknowledgement for the job which the Arrow Boys did well in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army in the state and sacrificing their lives to protect the community.

Declaring that allegations that they are rebels are false, Mr. Wanga urged the Government to make accountable all those who would continue to create insecurity with name of Arrow Boys.

The SSLNM also demanded for equitable distribution of power-sharing and promotion in the ranks of the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA).

Mr. Wanga stressed that if the government failed to listen to or ignored the aggrieved youth and citizens in South Sudan, this would only increase the suffering of innocent people.

Urging the community to return to their farms for cultivation, he however added that although the group was against war, they would remain in the bush until a final peace agreement was signed and security arrangements for their safety were put in place.

The government representatives, led by Mr. Danda, said they had heard all the grievances of the youth and would present them to the government for consideration.