JCE must strive to bring peace between Apuk and Aguok communities of Gogrial State

Posted: November 16, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Ariik Atekdit, Columnists, Junub Sudan

By Ariik Atekdit, Juba, South Sudan


November 16, 2016 (SSB) —- For the last few years there has been a continuous conflict between Apuk-Giir and Aguok-Mou communities of the defunct Warrap State. Several youths have been killed and properties destroyed between the conflicting communities. Many more got displaced and there has been no any humanitarian assistance brought in, it has been a continuous human suffering for quite a long time, now nearly a decade since 2006 & 2007.

As a journalist who has covered several incidences in that region (Gogrial West and Gogrial East), I very well know that the results of the conflict are severe and social fabrics have been negatively victimized. Citizens from either side of the fighting communities have mostly become the innocent victims when they happen to cross borders for one reason or another. Businesses between the two regions have halted as borders break apart and the whole state is affected in one way or another.

The inter-communal conflict that began earlier in 2007 got renewed once again and again all along with several governments trying to calm down and control the fighting between Apuk and Aguok communities but mostly it fell short to materialized; and human blood from both sides continues to shed. Such conflicts have no wide definition or better reason to keep on.  These types of conflicts cheaply take away human lives for causes that can only amount to senselessness.

In mid-May 2016 the Governor of Gogrial State, Mr. Abraham Gum Makuac conducted a three-day Peace Conference to end the sectional war that has caused 80 lives only in a year’s time or so. I am not saying that the entire death toll is 80. Several hundred had been killed from 2006/7 and other sporadic clashes have occurred in between.  However, until 2014 the inter-communal dispute got restarted hugely in the region.

The mid-May conference was attended by governors of Wau, Elias Waya, Governor of Aweil state, Bona Panek Biar the governor of Twic state plus other public figures from different states. Gogrial State’s County commissioners and Traditional chiefs from two sides and several members of parliament and ministers attended Pan-Nyuom Peace Conference from 15 to 17 of May 2016, yet fighting continued to occur.

We thought the Pan-Nyuom Peace Conference (PPC) would mark the end of Apuk & Aguok Intersectional conflict in Gogrial State. Yet in the recent time reports have revealed that clashes are ongoing among the communities and that the region is so polarized and became typically conflict hit. But why are they fighting? Sources in the region said that the conflict is a land-related-dispute. Areas like Waradhoth River and Pan-Nyuom village are reported to be the contested areas.

Why are these areas contested by the two communities especially at this time? What is the problem there? This is best known to the two warring communities. Our problem is: Who can get it to bring the total peace in the community? I suggest the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) to intervene alongside government. In reality the two fighting communities are Dinka (Jieng) ethnic subsections of Gogrial State. They are bonded by common borders, cultural heritage, from one constituency and bind by several marriages.

They speak the same; they live in the same areas and are members of the same state and a community. Indeed they are only more than being members of one big family. And as I know the victims of war are mourned from either community regardless of where they specifically belong. You may find a person from Aguok perhaps killed by Apuk and the funerals are conducted from both sides because he/she must be a relative to both communities. This is a double loss.

I have heard of an organization called: Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). I am told that the organization is a giant one and that it is made out of intellectuals that are knowledgeable and can crack any situation to find a solution to it. So far sectional disputes among the Jieng Communities have caused hundred lives and the catastrophe in Gogrial State is one of them. If JCE as an intellectual organization really survives, why is it not extending its activities to the rural Jieng’s population? I thought the JCE should have a Secretariat for Peace and Reconciliation that must look into the cases of inter-communal disputes within the Jieng territory.

The Dinka (Jieng) people across South Sudan are very rich and their peace-making process must be internally funded. The Jieng people have a heavy animal resources and I would urge the Jieng Council of Elders to immediately instruct the local chiefs to conditionally collect funds to facilitate peace-making process between the Aguok and Apuk communities in Gogrial State. There can be no any reason for these elders to have formed JCE apart from keeping peace among the local communities across the Jieng territory and its neighbours.

I believe our local communities are sometimes politicized and they end-up fighting conflicts for the interests of some senseless politicians that want to climb the ladder of leadership using human blood. It is enough that a lot of lives are lost to nothing when indeed South Sudan as a country want youths to protect it and to bring development but not to die for reasons of no accurate definitions. We have nobody to help our local communities to understand such topics but the members of Jieng Council of Elders. It will really sound meaningful if the JCE thinks back to consider the importance of peace in the communities they traditionally belong.

Apuk and Aguok are of the major communities in Gogrial State. And frankly speaking Gogrial is the home state of President Kiir Mayardit. It is not any fair for the President who is struggling to maintain peace in the entire country to lose it (peace) at home. For whose interest is that? If Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) is standing behind Salva Kiir as their son and as a national leader, they should take it as a concern and a responsibility to bring peace in Kiir’s immediate state.

If President Kiir always sleeps with difficulties of having crisis in his own Gogrial State, how best can he solve the problem of the whole nation? As we expect Kiir to serve the nation entirely we must also come up with the initiative to help him, especially at such chances. Indeed I would strongly urged JCE to work hard to bring peace and stability between Apuk and Aguok Communities of Gogrial State, the home state to President Kiir.

The dry season has now arrived in Gogrial State which can easily allow the movement of peacemakers within the region. It is also a difficult time for pastoralists to confront each other and I would strappingly recommend the JCE to start their peace initiative immediately without delay. And as soon as they succeed in that peace process the JCE can stitch the conflict in Tonj State among several communities there in Akop District and that of Tonj South Region as they move down to Agaar Community of Rumbek and the rest of the Jieng Communities in Greater Upper Nile if there are any differences at all.

The author is a long time experienced journalist, a freelancer and holds a bachelor of education in bio/chemistry. He can be reached @ Atekdit Mawien: ariqdudic@gmail.com

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