Upper Nile holds disarmament planning workshop
11 October 2011 – To plan forthcoming civilian disarmament activities in his state, Upper Nile Governor Simon Kun Pouch officially opened a two-day workshop in the capital Malakal today.
The workshop was organized by the Committee for Disarmament, which is chaired by Upper Nile Deputy GovernorAndrea Maya Feloand has representatives from the state's 13 counties.
The session was attended by 100 participants, including county commissioners, chiefs, police and government officials. Representatives from the United Nations, non-governmental organisations and members of the Peace Actors' Forum were also present.
Governor Pouch called on participants to develop a plan to peacefully disarm the civilian population.
"This disarmament is different; we are now an independent state," the governor said. "Anyone who crosses the (state) border refusing to disarm will be considered an enemy of the state."
Paramount Chief William Deng Rik of Nasir County expressed confidence that his community, which had been disarmed twice in the past, would cooperate.
"We will tell them the government wants to collect arms," Chief Rik said. "All those who have arms are known."
Maiwut County Paramount Chief Pal Tap Lual advised his people to give up arms and refocus their energies on cultivation or cattle keeping.
During this year's International Peace Day celebrations, South Sudanese Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar Teny said that violence among armed civilians in Jonglei, Warrap, Rumbek, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria states was undermining peace in the new nation.
Currently civilian disarmament is ongoing in Warrap, Lakes and Unity states.
A one-month awareness campaign is scheduled to take place in Upper Nile to sensitize communities about the upcoming civilian disarmament exercise.
Governor Pouch also called on neighbouring Jonglei to disarm its civilians. In recent months, Jonglei has been plagued by a vicious cycle of inter-communal violence between armed civilians.