Yei meeting resolves to improve civil-military relations
Local authorities in Yei River County together with civil society organizations and religious leaders have last week came up with seven resolutions and six recommendations aimed at improving the relationship between the civil population and the army in the county.
Among some of the recommendations to the government are the reduction of checkpoints, establishment of a military hospital, and extension of civil-military dialogues to the grassroots and adequate payment of soldiers. Meanwhile, the discussion resolved that there should be respect among soldiers and civilians, soldiers should not stay in the same location for more than 6 months, civilian disputes should be reported to chiefs and soldiers should be given leave to see their families among others.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Pitia Moses, the project manager for the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), said the stakeholders came up with several issues and urged the army to cooperate with civilian authorities.
“You have come up with 29 issues with one debatable issue being removed and with 6 recommendations and 7 resolutions. This is a prime responsibility for all of us,” he said. “I urge the military commanders in outpost units to cooperate with the civil authorities in improving the relationship between the civilians and the military in the five payams of Yei River County.”
Meanwhile, the paramount chief of Yei River County, Joseph Brown Lo’Mose, said there are good relations between the civilians and military due to the series of dialogues organized in the past.
“We believe there is peace in our hearts and among the soldiers and the civilians we started with the dialogue that took place in Goja and all the other payams,” he said. “We had a dialogue that brought people from all the payams of Yei. That is why every morning I ask those in the barracks to find out what is happening because if there are small issues, I am sure, they can be solved.”
For his part, Sheik Ali Mogga, the chairman of the Islamic Council, appealed to the government and partners to continue organizing peace dialogues.
“It is our appeal that such dialogues continue and bring new people to attend them because it will bring peace,” he said.
Lt.Col. Matur Apach, the chief administrator of the SSPDF unit in Yei, said it is the mandate of the army to protect civilians and their properties and that the latter should have confidence in the army.
“You have to have confidence that SSPDF is here for your protection. Without SSPDF, you will not be here and it is our mandate to protect you and your property and our country as well,” he said. “So, this country is for all of us with different duties that is why we are soldiers and you are civilians.”
Meanwhile, Gale Ezbon, the executive director of Yei River County, said the implementation of the meeting’s resolutions would need funding.
“Without funding, these resolutions will remain on paper so CEPO please continue knocking on other doors that will help us,” he said. “For the military hospital, we attempted to renovate the hospital in the barracks and even looked for beds but the big problem is that there are no military doctors.”
The dialogue was organized by CEPO, SPEDP, The Whitaker Peace and Development Organisation, Finn Church Aid, IOM and UNMISS, and local religious leaders.
The dialogue brought together about 120 civilians and military personnel.