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TONJ EAST - 11 Feb 2024

Luachjang community commits to peace with Agar Pakam

The Luachjang community of Makuac Payam in Tonj East County has accepted peace talks with their neighbours from the Agar Pakam community in Rumbek North County, Lakes State.

This came during a one-day peace meeting convened on Friday in Makuac Payam. It was facilitated by the Warrap State government.

The Minister of Information, William Wol Mayom, and the UNMISS Civil Affairs team arrived in Makuac Payam on Friday to assess the overall security situation. This evaluation was prompted by the recent deadly clashes in January between the Luachjang community of Tonj East County, Warrap State, and the Pakam community of Rumbek North County, Lakes State.

William Arop, the commissioner of Tonj East County, told Radio Tamazuj on Saturday that the state government, led by Minister William Wol Mayom and the Civil Affairs division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), engaged with the Luachjang community to discuss peace with their neighbouring community in Lakes State. Arop emphasized that the meeting aimed to gauge the community’s willingness to pursue peace with Pakam.

“The purpose of the meeting was to inquire whether the Luachjang community would agree to engage in peace talks with the Pakam community. The community voluntarily expressed its commitment to dialogue with the Pakam community, prompting the Minister of Information to urge the Luachjang community to refrain from retaliatory attacks,” Arop stated.

He further explained, “Chiefs, youth, and women collectively urged the minister to facilitate a peace talk with the Rumbek North community. The Luachjang community specifically chose Thoonydoor, a contested area, as the venue for peace discussions due to historical disputes over grazing and water resources in that location.”

Arop emphasized that Thoonydoor is an agriculturally promising area abundant with grass and water. This has led to conflicting claims from both the Warrap and Lakes states communities. The commissioner pointed out that Thoonydoor holds historical significance, as communities have previously engaged in peace talks there. He noted that disputes over the land have been ongoing for years, with the most recent deadly clashes occurring in Panyang and Mabior Adel areas on January 31 of this year.

Meanwhile, William Wol Mayom, the Minister of Information for Warrap State, acknowledged and expressed gratitude to UNMISS for facilitating an airlift to convey the message of peace to the recently conflict-affected community.

“We visited Makuac Payam of the Luachjang community to pacify them in light of the recent conflict with the Agar Pakam community of Lakes State. UNMISS promptly responded to our request for a flight to deliver the peace message to the Luachjang community,” Wol stated.

“We assessed the humanitarian situation, and the peace rally drew a participation of over 500 men and women. The community demonstrated its commitment to peace, pledging not to engage in hostilities with the neighbouring Agar community of Pakam. Governor Kuol Muor’s message this year emphasizes the importance of peace and stability,” he explained.

Wol suggested that a similar peace rally is anticipated to be conducted at Maper Pakam, the headquarters of Rumbek North County, by his counterpart Riing Tueny Mabor, the governor of Lakes State. Both governors are planning to organize a peace conference for the two communities to address and reconcile their differences.

In a related development, Minister Wol mentioned that while the security situation is relatively calm, he expressed concerns about the Kuajok-Wau road, accusing Wau of targeting residents from Gogrial East.

“The security in Warrap State is stable, and we have deployed ample forces on our side of the Kuajok-Wau road. However, our community members are being questioned at the Tharkueng checkpoint by Wau security, demanding nationality cards. This raises concerns as it appears to be targeting individuals,” he stated.