Acholi and Ma’di communities strive for peace
17 April 2012 - To resolve recurring land wrangles, mitigate future hostilities and strengthen coexistence, the Acholi and Ma'di communities of Eastern Equatoria State's Magwi County began peace talks today in the capital Torit.
Over the next three days, participants hope to discuss and resolve disputes revolving around the sub-division of county boundaries and the demarcation of land in Ame Junction of Pageri Payam (District). They will also tackle the contested administrative placement of Ame Junction.
In opening remarks, State Governor Brigadier General Louis Lobong Logere thanked UNMISS, the UN Development Programme and Inter-Church Committee in the state and other organizations for initiating peace building efforts between the two communities.
Efforts to bring the two ethnic groups together for peace talks have been ongoing since tensions over land escalated in late 2011, resulting in the loss of human life and destruction of property.
"Resolving the difference over local boundaries and other issues of conflict is in the hands of the two communities," Governor Logere said, pledging that the government would support recommendations they made.
UNMISS chief of the Recovery, Reintegration and Peace-Building section, Sylvia Fletcher, said inter-tribal conflict represented the largest single source of violence in the new nation.
"The success of the new nation of South Sudan in large part will be determined by the capacity of peace between communities and the ability first for coexistence, (and) next for concerted development efforts that will engage all communities," Ms. Fletcher said.
Participants will deliberate on Land Ownership as stipulated in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan and Local Government Act laws on the creation of counties, payams and bomas. The initiative also aims to reinforce more community engagement on restorative justice systems.
Government of South Sudan Presidential Adviser Joseph Lagu appealed to the two communities to put their hostilities aside and resume cordial relations.
Over 200 participants, including representatives from both communities, the government, UN, civil society organizations, international agencies and religious groups attended the opening ceremony.