Historic moment in the Tambura area as government and opposition members come together for peace

MARTIN SIBA Pasqualina Usini walked from the village of Duma Bayam, located some ten miles north of Tambura town, because something historic was happening, and he wanted to be a part of it.

For the first time in three years, two military generals � Major General James Nando and General Baleya Digido � from South Sudan’s opposition had brought their men to a rapprochement meeting, organized by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM).

When he got a chance to speak, it was easy to see why he had made the long journey.

I’m happy today. My happiness came because I am seeing those who were in the bush fighting with the government are now in front of me here; it’s just like I’m dreaming now, he said, urging the two rivals to reconcile and work for the betterment of their people instead of fighting and displacing them.

There was a bigger, personal reason for his happiness.

So, I urge the two of them to reconcile and stop fighting in order to allow us to go back to our farms. Really, I wanted to go back to my farm in Namutina county, but I couldn’t go there because the government forces and the opposition were fighting there, said Usini.

Usini was one of many people who came from nearby villages to fill up Tambura Freedom Square, enduring high temperatures from the hot equatorial sun to witness the peaceful coming together of the armed opposition groups that were feared only a few months ago.

Like Usini, William Reth, a traditional leader in Tambura town said he wished for real peace to come to Tambura for the roads to be opened so that people could travel safely and freely to different places such as Wau, Yambio and the capital, Juba. He condemns the spirit of tribalism that the current war has taken and stressing that this war is for politicians but quickly it was misunderstood wrongly.

We need peace, because South Sudan doesn’t belong to any individual; it’s for all. We’ve been suffering for a long time. So today I’m happy for the peace that is here in Tambura state and in South Sudan, said Chief Reth.

Major General Nando enthusiastically declared that his coming to Tambura was synonymous with the return of peace.

I am in Tambura state today for peace, and there is nothing other than peace. I’ve brought it with me to you here, said Major General Nando, the commander of the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-iO) in the area.

Maj. General Nando said they were committed to ensuring total peace was attained in the whole of the Western Equatoria region.

Also, I want to convey to you the message from our overall commander Field Marshal Alfred Futeyo, that peace be with you, and we will not fire any bullet at any one in Tambura, he announced.

The head of UNMISS field office in the Greater Equatoria region, Christopher Murenga emphasized the need for trust building and reconciliation for the two sides to work together.

The main reason for our being here today is to create trust between the two of you and make sure that both of you are speaking the language of peace ahead of the upcoming transitional period, through such kind of rapprochement meetings, and to also reconcile with the public, said Mr. Murenga.

The ceasefire and transitional security arrangements monitoring mechanism’s team leader took the opportunity to explain the monitoring mechanism’s role.

We are there to work with both of you in the areas of assembly areas and trainings areas, and if there are any violations in terms of ground extension or ceasefire, all of us, me ,you and General Nando who is here today with us, can solve the problem amicably before we walk out from here to meet the public, said Mr. Joseph Balikudembe, the CTSAMM team leader.

The Tambura area governor, Patrick Raphael Zamoi, appreciated the role played by UNMISS & CTSAMM and their initiative to bring government and armed opposition leaders in the area together in the rapprochement meeting, saying what remained now was to resolve pending issues.

There were some grievances about violations here and there in my state, but today after this, I think we will be able to resolve them together. We in Tambura state are for peace and will remain for peace because there is nothing, we need only peace. So, I hope my brothers in opposition will unify their voices with us and there shall be a total peace when we walk out to address the crowds outside there in order to avoid two conflicting messages to our public, said Mr. Zamoi.

Justin Malish, a young businessman attending the meeting, had his eyes on the money, considering what a return to peaceful co-existence would mean for his business.

Really, when the opposition were in the bush everything was not going well, but now with peace I think our business will go well, said Malish.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan