Traditional leaders trained in conflict resolution

22 May 2012

Traditional leaders trained in conflict resolution

19 May 2012 - To reduce tensions and build peace in Upper Nile State, the Council of Traditional Authority Leaders (COTAL) concluded a three-day workshop today in the capital Malakal on managing conflict.

The workshop was organized by the UN Development Programme, State Peace Commission and Ministry of Local Government and Law Enforcement.

Rev. Tut Pech, deputy director of the peace commission, said the workshop aimed to increase the capacity of COTAL 26 members to resolve conflicts.

"We brought them to Malakal so that they can learn how to analyze, identify and solve the problems," Rev. Pech said. "They will gain skills to identify the parties involved and the issues causing the parties to get into conflict in the first place."

Formed in November 2011, COTAL's members are selected from Upper Nile's 13 counties. In coordination with county authorities and local chiefs, they work to build peace and harmony among communities living in the state.

William Gwang, director general at the Ministry of Local Government and Law Enforcement, said that the members had learned problem solving, mediation and reconciliation skills.

"I want to see that the COTAL members work in harmony with the authorities in the counties to resolve conflicts," he said. "The government thinks they will play a pivotal role in mitigating conflicts and managing them."

Bordering troubled Jonglei and Unity states, communities in Upper Nile grapples security challenges like retaliatory cattle rustling, conflicts over water and pasture, armed civilians, activity by rebel militia groups, and unemployment.

The COTAL pledged to work closely with county authorities and recommended they be allocated office space and provided with transportation to help better perform their duties.