Jonglei peace process set to resume next month

24 Mar 2012

Jonglei peace process set to resume next month

23 March 2012 – A preliminary meeting involving government officials, religious leaders, the UN and others is scheduledfor early April to lay the groundwork for a major peace conference in Jonglei Statein May.

The three-day workshop will begin on 2 April in the Jonglei capital of Bor and bring together representatives of the Sudan Council of Churches, the state government, UNMISS, the UN Development Programme and non-governmental organizations, according to Episcopal Church of South Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul.

Appointed bypresidential decreeto head the Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance in Jonglei Committee, the archbishop said that participants in next month's workshop will draft a strategic plan for achieving peace in the strife-torn state that will be submitted to a summit involving all of Jonglei's major ethnic groups now scheduled to take place during 1-5 May.

Archbishop Deng spent weeks trying to organize such a conference in the final months of 2011 before a series of attacks by Lou Nuer youths against Murle communities in Pibor County in late December put the Jongei peace process on hold.

During a visit to Bor this week, the prelate said he would urge participants in the workshop to hold grassroots meetings next month with chiefs, elders, women and youth groups across Jonglei to discuss the early May peace conference and invite them to support the parley.

"I am expecting everybody who loves peace to participate in this process because we have lost so many people," said Archbishop Deng. "I hope everybody will come, sit together and try to find a lasting solution for the problems."

He welcomed the launch of a statewide civilian disarmament campaign earlier this month as a vital step towards ensuring the ultimate success of a revived peace process.

"It is important for all citizens not to carry arms because the arms are tempting (people) to unnecessary actions," he said. "If we want to have development in Jonglei, we must make sure that everybody is not carrying a gun."