Sudan: Peace conference resolves to stop cattle rustling

Report
from IRIN
Published on 14 Jul 2003
NAIROBI, 14 July (IRIN) - A peace conference held earlier this month between the Nuer and Dinka communities in south Sudan has resolved to stop ongoing cattle rustling in Western Upper Nile and eastern Bahr el Ghazal.
The peace and reconciliation conference, known as Wunlit-2, noted that soldiers affiliated with both the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) were involved in the cattle rustling, said Victor Lugala, communications officer with the New Sudan Council of Churches, which facilitated the meeting.

The estimated 100 participants who gathered in Thiet, Bahr el Ghazal, from 5-12 July, resolved to establish joint police posts in border areas to monitor incidences of cattle rustling. They also agreed on measures to arbitrate in cattle disputes.

"The new dimension is that soldiers are involved in the cattle rustling now, whereas before it was civilians," Lugala told IRIN. "They want the rebel groups to restrain their soldiers."

Both communities noted that some of the Nuer camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Dinka-dominated Bahr el Ghazal were being used as hiding places for the thieves, he added. Participants recommended that the Nuer IDPs, who number about 30,000, should return to their homes in Western Upper Nile.

The meeting was a follow-up to Wunlit 1 in 1999, when representatives from the Nuer and Dinka communities agreed to a cessation of hostilities, and resolved to live peacefully together after years of strife.

"The most significant thing about the conference is that Wunlit 1 has not collapsed - people were very optimistic," Lugala commented. On top of that, both sides reported that there was "relative peace" and freedom of movement in the region, and both communities were sharing grazing lands and fishing grounds, he said.

Wunlit 1 followed eight years of ethnic violence between the two communities, which resulted from a rebellion within the Dinka-dominated SPLM/A, led by a member of the Nuer community, Riek Machar.

Several of the new resolutions had also been part of the Wunlit 1 agreement, said Lugala, but had not been implemented since 1999. Local authorities had been unable to train police and set up border courts with their meagre resources, he added.

Two peace councils, one from each community, are monitoring the agreement.

[ENDS]

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