SUDAN: SPLM Calls On Traditional Leaders To Abhor Violence

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Sudan Tribune
Eastern Africa
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Senior officials from South Sudan's governing party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), on Thursday, called on traditional leaders to abhor violence and support traditional norms and values which advocates peace and reconciliation.

The officials issued statements in series of separate interviews conducted by Sudan Tribune on alternatives to address violence appears to weaken peace process after the region voted overwhelmingly in support of secession from the North.

Heavy fighting, which the UN reports show claimed 800 lives and displaced 94,000 people, erupted shortly after the region saw an overwhelming vote in favour of secession.

The rebel group, South Sudan Democratic Movement led by General George Athor Deng Dut, in Jonglei state, came to existence after he lost gubernatorial election in April 2010, claiming the exercise was rigged in favour of his main rival, incumbent Governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk.

In Upper Nile State, armed groups operating under direct command of Johnson Olony sprang up supposedly in defence of Shilluk tribal land.

There are also claims that these groups have connection with opposition political party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement for Democratic Change, under former Sudanese Foreign affairs minister, Lam Akol Ajawin.

A claim Akol denies, saying the SPLM which control affairs of the region should take responsibility of all military engagements, the subsequent displacement of citizens and human rights abuses.

Gatluak Gai in Unity state also launched armed protest against the election result in favour of incumbent Taban Deng Gai. There are also armed youth groups operating in coordination with General George Athor in Pibor County, Jonglei State, under the command of David Yauyau.

Yauyau launched his rebellion after failing to win a parliamentary seat for the area in the last 2010 elections.

Other discontented political and military groups include Bapiny Monytuel and Peter Gadet Yak whose armed elements clashed on separate dates with forces belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in areas around Mayom county, Unity state. They have established their own forces against the regional government.

While the reasons for Monytuel's rebellion against the SPLA forces remains unclear, Gadet in his explanation of intention - the Mayom Declaration claimed to be fighting to correct the system of governance in the south. He accused the SPLM lead government of south Sudan of corruption and repression of free internal opposition.

Bol Makueng, head of information, culture and communications at the SPLM in the southern sector said on Thursday, "this is not acceptable. We did not fight during the liberation struggle as one and the same people in order to come and fight ourselves".

"Chiefs must abhor violence. The youth must abhor violence. The women must talk to their husbands and sons to reject violence. There is no reason to fight ourselves at this time".

"We need women and youth to work together with government of south Sudan in consolidating peace and reconciliation, the senior member of the SPLM", before adding that he implored all South Sudanese not to take for granted the peace the region has been enjoying after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

He also called on the media to increase their efforts in covering peace and development related activities instead of focusing on armed confrontation with political or armed dissidents.

"The media have a role to play in the development. They have a role to play in peace building and healing process. The media should give no time to promote peace and reconciliation", he said.

He said media should not advocate or indeed entertain any suggestions of violence.

Deng Thiep Akok, former Aweil North county commissioner, contributed in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune that chiefs are custodian of peace, values, and heritage and that they should take the lead against violence, saying the region is experiencing sporadic incidences of violent nature, almost everywhere.

"I agree with comrade Bol Makueng's call on chiefs to reject violence. Chiefs are the custodian of peace and values. They have close links and connections with their people. They all know their people one by one because they are always with them", said Akok,

He also asked clerics to get involve in spreading message of peace and reconciliation.

"To the clerics, I ask that theirs must be a clear message of peace, the peace of Christ that the place of worship is founded on and continues to thrive on till this day. And theirs, too, must be a conciliatory approach to any issue they may deem contentious and purge, within themselves, elements that are trying to hide behind the pulpit pretending to be speaking for the masses", said the senior member of southern ruling party.