Armed forces in Eastern Equatoria meet to promote peace and trust
Confidence and trust-building, the bedrock for the implementation of the negotiated Revitalized Peace Agreement, were the focus at a meeting between the South Sudan People's Defense Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition in Pajok, located in the Eastern Equatoria region.
“We are committed to upholding the peace agreement and invite opposition commanders to feel safe to visit their families or stay at will,” said the local commander of the government forces, General Kulang.
“We are determined to prioritize the protection of civilians and work with local officials to facilitate the return of internally displaced persons and refugees,” his opposition force counterpart and division commander General Okeny Lam, reciprocated.
The high-level meeting provided an opportunity for both parties to discuss views and concerns without intimidation or fear. Being the last of a series of behind-the-scenes consultations, the encounter was attended by liaison officers and commanders from both sides of the recently ended conflict. County commissioners, chiefs and leaders of women and youth groups were also present.
Participants praised the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism for enabling the successful dialogue. County commissioners also spoke of their own “continued engagement” with commanders from both sides to promote confidence and trust to maintain the peace.
Caroline Waudo, a representative of the UN peacekeeping mission, commended the two armed forces of the Eastern Equatoria region for listening to the voices of their citizens to usher in security and protection. She also cautioned against any attempts at derailing the peace.
“We stand ready to support and work with the parties to engage in peaceful political dialogue towards achieving a complete cessation of hostilities, strengthen trust and confidence and promote an inclusive sustainable peace process.”