Several Abortive Reconciliation Peace Conferences between the Greater Bor Dinka and the Murle Communities. When will this policy of ambiguity end?
By Hon. Maker Lual Kuol, Bor, Jonglei State
December 11, 2016 (SBB) — For nearly two centuries, Murle have continued to raid Bor; killing people, abducting children and robbing livestock to the extent that this inhuman and atrocious activity has become a lost a daily practice. It is not Bor alone that suffers from these raids but over other 12 communities such as Anyuak, Jie, Kachipo, Nuers, Toposa, Buoya, Pari, Lopit, Mundari, Bari, Lokoyo, Lotuka that surround the Murle suffer the same atrocities though at a lower magnitude.
Bor in this particular situation has the longest border extension with the Murle; approximately 250 kilometers from Bor South County border with Terekaka State to Duk North County Border with Fangak State. One fact known to all is that there are no contact areas where the two communities annually meet for water and pastures as these scarce resources are always the cause of disputes and conflicts between pastoralists.
The worst in this situation is that most Murle leaders and elites cover up the mistakes and crimes of their communities. Instead they consider the acts of the members of their communities as heroism and bravery of their people and the communities raided or affected are considered to be cowards. Unfortunately those usual denials did not last in the face of the raids on Ethiopia in March 2016 when Ethiopia thrust armed to teeth forces into the South Sudanese borders.
And to evade the consequences, all the Murle leaders, hysterically in confusion, beginning from the governor of Boma State to the lowest in social hierarchy hurried up in recovering over one hundred abducted children in a very short period of time. Even for the first time, members of Murle who are always known for covering up of the devilish crimes of their people, started to point fingers at each other.
While the latest peace conference was on session in Pibor between the 1st and 4th December 2016, the Murle were actively busy in Greater Bor Area killing people, abducting children and robbing livestock. For instance, on 3rd Dec. 2016, two women were killed and a child abducted in Bor North County and on 5th Dec. 2016, the Murle greeted and welcomed back the returning delegation from the peace conference by killing two women (sisters) and abducting one child in Twic North County. Those activities were a clear defiance to the peace conference that was on process in Pibor.
Since independence of Sudan from the Condominium Rule in 1956 till independence of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, 12 (Twelve)) major and minor peace conferences were held between the Murle and the Bor Dinka and after any of these peace conferences, the Murle commit more horrific crimes on the people of Bor. Below are the many conferences held between the two communities for over 50 years since 1962.
- Bor Conference in 1962
The first peace conference between Murleand Bor Dinka was held 52 years ago in 1962 in Bor. The conference was co-chaired by Abas Babikr, the commissioner of Bor District and al- Bashir al- Wagie, the commissioner of Pibor District. Also, some chiefs from the two communities headed by Paramount Chiefs of Bor District, Ajang Duot and Ajakoor of the Murle attended. As the conference was held in the open under trees, members of the public including us, as students at Bor Intermediate by the time used to hang around as spectators.
Among those colleagues I could recall in witnessing the conference as spectators from Murle community, were late Rio Ajakoor (son of Murle Paramount Chief Ajakoor), Martin Lotigo and others. Unfortunately the resolutions reached were not implemented and the Murle instead continued with their usual evil practices.
By that time, Murle had not acquired firearms. Only spears were the common weapons.
2. Pibor Conference in 1975
In 1975, another peace conference that involved most communities of Upper Nile was convened in Pibor. Senior authorities and officials from the Regional Government in Juba and Upper Nile Province led by Abel Alier, the vice president of the republic and president of the High Executive Council attended the conference. Other dignitaries included Enoch Mading de Garang, minister of culture and information and Peter Gatkuoth, commissioner of Upper Nile Province.
Among chief present were paramount Chief David Mabior Ngueny for Bor District, Ajakoor Korok for Pibor, Makuei Bil Kuei, Chief Andrea Farajala of Juba B court and many other chiefs from other communities of Upper Nile. Police inspectors of all the nine districts of Upper Nile attended the conference. At the conclusion of the conference, resolutions were drastic to the extent that some chiefs were dismissed for laxity in administering their communities.
The conference dispersed with high hopes of peace and tranquility but the Murle considered the affair to be a government affair and not theirs and as such continued to intensify their criminal activities against Bor Dinka in particular and the neighboring communities in general.
3. Gadiang Conference in 1981
The conference was attended by all communities of Jonglei Province that got sliced out from Upper Nile in 1976 when more provinces were created in Southern Sudan. Abel Alier, the vice president and president of the High Executive Council attended the conference among other dignitaries including Johnson Malual Leek, the Jonglei Commissioner by the time.
Paramount chiefs from the various communities such as David Mabior Ngueny of Bor District, Gatwich Dual, the current SPLM –IO Chief of General Staff representing Lou Nuer and the Murle Paramount Chief were also in attendance.
The glittering resolutions reached could not last as the Murle immediately resumed their culture of raids into Bor and other neighbors.
In 1983, especially after the rebellion of Battalion 105 in Bor, the Murles, during successive raids on Amoumeth, Anyidi, Machar Dehr, Alian and Paliau cattle camps where over 250 people were in a period of less than a year.
4. Liliir Conference in 2001
While the peace negotiations between the SPLM and the Salvation Government were on at Machakos in Kenya, Sudan Council of Churches in coordination with South Sudan Law Society convened a peace conference at Liliir village north of Bor Town. The conference drew many from the communities of Jonglei State. Among the dignitaries who attended the conference were Cdr. John Koang Nyuon, the then governor of Upper Nile and His deputy Cdr. Peter Wal Athieu.
Some commissioners, including Nicodemos Arou Man, the hosting commissioner also attended. Dr. Harun from the Sudan Council of Churches and Justice Dengtiel Ayuen Kur acted as the facilitators of the conference. Even from Khartoum, elders such as late Isaiah Kulang Mabor and late Johnson Malual Leek among others attended the gathering.
But when the conference concluded its meetings, the Murle flexed their muscles for further deadly attacks on their usual vulnerable Bor People.
5. Boma Conference on 10th March 2004
A mini Peace Conference attended by both communities of Murle and Bor was convened in Boma. Unfortunately, Murle did not tune to the coexistence spirit.
6. Anyidi Conference on 20th March 2004
In 2004 when some Murle cattle camps migrated to Bor in search of water and pastures, the hosting communities dispersed them along the area in order to avoid congestion on water points. That opportunity was exploited by Philip Thon Nok, the peace project officer by the time in coordination with Bor South County Authorities to convene a mini peace conference between the Bor Dinka and the visiting Murle Community in the area led by chief Gulic.
Among the dignitaries who attended the conference included Cdr. Peter Wal Athieu, Cdr. Machar Akeu, Maker Chol Adol, Cdr. Kazakia Ruei Puot, the then Bor South County Commissioner and Panchol Jongkuc Kur, the SSRA Secretary.
That conference also ended with usual claims of opening a new page but the always defiant Murle continued their activities.
7. Bor Town Conference (November 2005)
With the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a peace conference was convened in Bor Town between the two communities of Murle and Bor. That conference was attended by Philip Thon Leek and Ismail Konyi, former Governors of Jonglei State, Jude Jonglei, speaker of Jonglei State and Isaiah Chol Aruei, Abraham Jok Ariing and Mayen Ngor, commissioners of Twic East, Bor and Duk Counties respectively. Members of Jonglei Assembly from both Communities attended the conference. That conference met the same fate of the previous ones and the Murle resumed their activities against the people of Bor.
8. Gumuruk Conference in 2006
The conference brought along all the six communities of Jonglei State and importantly, the conference was attended by the top leadership of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) headed by Dr. Riek Machar, the former vice president of the Government of the Southern Sudan, Daniel Awet Akot, former minister of Interior, Clement Wani Konga, former Governor of Central Equatoria, Philip Thon Leek, former Governor of Jonglei State, commissioners of various counties of Jonglei State, king of Anyuak beside paramount chiefs and chiefs of various present communities.
Of course with that high level attendance by the government authorities, people thought that was the end of conflicts between the Murle and the neighboring communities, but instead the Murle continued to violate the agreement.
9. The Jonglei Reconciliation and Peace Conference (2011)
The Government despite the continuous violations of agreements by Murles, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan thought of involving the church and as such decreed the formation of a peace and reconciliation committee under the chairmanship of His Grace Daniel Deng Bul, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan. And not to leave any stone unturned, committees were formed to visit all counties of Jonglei State in order to dig out the root causes of the conflicts.
When the committees compiled their reports, a general conference was convened in Bor where notes were compared and resolutions drowned. In order to assure commitment of all communities to the resolutions, the resolutions were signed by four paramount chiefs representing the Greater Counties of former Jonglei State; among them Ngatho, the paramount chief of Pibor.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by President Salva Kiir, Michael Makuei Lueth, the national minister of information, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk, former Governor of Jonglei State, His Grace Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church, myself as Bor County Commissioner by the time and many other dignitaries from the national and state governments.
The Murle did not care whether the president attended or not and as usual violated the agreement reached and vigorously continued to step up their raids into Bor and the neighboring communities.
10. Gumuruk Conference 19th August 2016
In trying to bring about peace between the Murle and Bor Dinka, both Baba Medan and Philip Aguer Panyang, the governors of Boma and Jonglei States thought of trying once more what the President, vice presidents, governors and church failed to achieve during 52 years period and as such convened a one day conference at Gumuruk in Boma State. Unfortunately, the conference did not bear fruits.
11. Bor Conference 20th 9 2016
In reciprocating to the Gumuruk mini conference, another similar white washing conference was hurriedly convened at South Sudan Hotel in Bor amidst the roaring rotaries of UNMISS Choppers at Bor Airport. The result of the conference was launching more raids into Bor!
12. Pibor Conference 1st -4th Dec. 2016
Between 1st and 4th, the two states convened a peace conference in Pibor between the two communities of Murle and Bor Dinka attended by dignitaries from the two states of Jonglei and Boma led by the two governors Philip Aguer and Baba Medan. While the conferees were at the pomp of congratulating themselves on the great achievement for the lasting peace, the Murle were inflicting atrocities on the people of Bor.
On the 3rd December while the two parties were on the negotiating table, the Murle killed two women in Bor North County and abducted one child. On the 5th December 2016 when the conferees were returning to their places, the Murle attacked a village in Twic North County and killed two women who happened to be sisters, and walked away with one child.
It is reported that, while the two communities were negotiating, the Lou Nuer sent in an urgent message to the Boma State Government to immediately recover four Lou Nuer children the Murle abducted some few days earlier to the conference. The Lou Nuer gave an ultimatum of two days otherwise they would be forced to invade the area.
The Boma Government hysterically in no time recovered the four children among them a three month old baby! The Lou Nuer copied the example of the Ethiopian Government when she thrust thousands of her troops into the South Sudanese border. The usual techniques of denial by Mrule’s leaders could not work in front of the mighty Lou Nuer and the Ethiopian Government!!!
All the conferences held with the Murle are liken to a story of an Imam (A Muslim Cleric) who was advising a hyena against eating people’s sheep and goats as the consequences were going to be bad at the resurrection time. And while listening keenly to the Imam, a herd of sheep appeared in front of them. On seeing the sheep, the hyena appealed to the Imam to shorten his advice as he was going to miss the herd!!
Twelve Peace Conferences held in a span of 52 years of which some of them were attended by top leaders of South Sudan including President Salva Kiir, Vice President Abel Alier and Vice President Riek Machar but the Murle continued defiant!!!
The millions of Dollars or pounds spent on these twelve peace conferences between the Murles, Dinka, Nuers and others, had it been utilized on roads, water reservoirs, health facilities, schools and construction of security posts between the communities, at least the situation would have changed to some extent. It is not too late to catch up.
The unfortunate part is that Murle Community has no central authority. It is led by the generation group whose objective is to precede the previous generations in criminality. The best leader for them is the one who encourages malpractices ranging from robbery, child abduction to killing.
The International Community which is playing the role of sponsoring and supporting peace dialogue initiatives in South Sudan has no interest other than to continue accessing employment and training of their inexperience people such that when they return to their homes of origin, they would claim to be experts and to confer upon themselves the specialization in South Sudanese affairs.
From the above narrative it is obvious that all the peace conferences failed miserably. No South Sudanese national in his full senses would applaud and support the death of his or her compatriots South Sudanese. Why not reverting to other options if the peace dialogues had reached a dead lock? It is time for the government to intervene in order to bring about a lasting peace among the communities of South Sudan.
If the IGAD, AU, TROIKA and UN could impose a solution on the opposition and the government on a conflict that lasted for two years only why not imposing a solution in order to resolve a conflict that lasted for nearly two centuries? The government should intervene in order to stop the bloodletting in the former Greater Jonglei State. But while the government is considering any other possible option, may I be allowed as a disturbed citizen to put forward the below suggestions:
(a) Short term solutions
- Establishment of border security points.
Security roads to be constructed along the borders separating the neighboring communities that are consistently on conflicts. Security posts to be situated at every 10 kilometers interval. At Ajakgeer 53 kilometers east of Bor Town, UNDP constructed an observatory police post and wild life conservation office. Similar facilities were supposed to be concurrently constructed at Mach-Abol in Boma State.
2. Availing of Water for livestock and human.
As water is a crucial element for the pastoralist communities during the dry season, it is necessary that water reservoirs are constructed at strategic points for the drinking of both the livestock and the wild life. Also boreholes are to be drilled near the reservoirs for the provision of clean drinking water to the population.
3. A monitoring team where all the affected communities are to be represented. The team to be stationed in Pibor to monitor the criminal activities of the different communities.
(b) Long term Solution
There is a large semi empty area surrounded by the communities of the different states. That area is estimated at about five million hectares of arable land. That area could be converted into large agricultural schemes where by communities surrounding it can benefit from it. During the British Colonial period, a research conducted on sugar cane production in Mangala proved that sugar content in sugar cane planted was 14%.
That research made the area to be potential for the growth of sugar cane that could supply a sugar factory that can meet the country requirement from processed sugar. Unfortunately, our former colonialist, the Arab North constructed sugar factories at Geneid, Khashum al- Girba, Asalaya, West Sennar and Kenana. During Numiery industrial revolution, one sugar factory was constructed at Melut, but never started operations or production till present moment.
Initiatives for peaceful dialogues are commendable but if no progress seen in the horizon, other options are to be resorted to.
The author, Maker Lual Kuol, is the former commissioner of Bor County and can be reached on 0956525130
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