Opposition and government officials in Greater Koch County in Northern Liech held a one-day peace and reconciliation conference in Koch to discuss issues related to peace implementation. The meeting sought to promote joint participation of opposition, government and civilian groups in addressing insecurity in the area.
About 500 participants, including government and opposition officials, took part in the meeting that was organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division in Bentiu, in collaboration with local authorities in Koch.
We must reconcile and unite our people for the purpose of unity of our country. We should forgive one another and forget the past, said Liech County commissioner, Gattuor Kuek, concluding, South Sudan needs unity and forgiveness.
The County Commissioner went on to make a special appeal to fellow leaders in the area:
As leaders, we must commit ourselves to promote peace and reconciliation among our community, he said.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) deputy commissioner for Koch County, William Kueth, pledged his commitment to achieving peace and security in the area.
We will work hard to achieve peace and reconciliation among our communities through dialogue, he said. We signed the peace agreement to end the suffering of our people, Kueth went on, concluding, The peace has been already signed and nobody will die again.
Citizens of Koch expressed their excitement about the meeting between SPLM-IO and government officials in Koch.
Nyakhor Yaka, a female participant, said she was eager to see the people of South Sudan reunite and reconcile.
Dialogue is so important for the people of South Sudan. Let us promote peace through dialogue, she said, emphasizing national unity. We want to live in peace and unite as citizens of one country.
Like other residents of the area, Nyakhor hopes that she has experienced the last displacement in her lifetime due to conflict.
“Today we came to Koch for peace and we will not leave Koch again. This is our return forever, she said.
Another female participant, Martha Nyatuak appealed to political leaders in the country to implement the revitalized peace agreement, signed in Addis Ababa over five months ago.
We don’t need more conflicts again in South Sudan. We just want the implementation of the peace agreement, and that is our message to the leaders, she said.
Pascal Akimana, an UNMISS civil affairs officer in Bentiu, hailed the peace conference, saying it would help the people to unite and reconcile.
The main objective for the Civil Affairs Division’s organizing a peace conference was to bring together communities that had been separated for long to start discussions and dialogue for peace and reconciliation, he said.
He also emphasized the need to address the root causes of conflict in the area.
We are also working with the community to tackle the issue of cattle raiding, which is the main cause of the conflict between communities, said the UN official.
Source: UN Mission in South Sudan