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Tambura peace conference postponed over security concerns

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Friday, March 15, 2024

Map of Western Equatoria State. | Courtesy.

The South Sudan Council of Churches has called off a planned peace conference in Tambura County of Western Equatoria State after the area Commissioner raised security and preparation concerns.

The conference scheduled for 18th March 2024, was meant to reconcile, unite and build confident among the communities of Tambura following the deadly subnational violence that raged in the area in 2022.

But on Wednesday, Tambura County Commissioner, Mathew Mabenge wrote a letter to South Sudan Council of Churches head office in Juba, postponing the peace conference, citing tension in the area.

In an interview with Eye Radio, Commissioner Mabenge confirmed he temporarily postponed the conference because some of the resolutions of a pre-conference in Juba, Yambio and other places have not been honored.

He stated that the arrangement of the security committee to create safe environment for the event was not channeled through the relevant authorities on the ground.

The county official further said two traditional leaders have not yet reconciled among themselves, leading to tension in the area.

Another concern the commissioner raised was that the state authorities have not grant the county authorities with full approval and support for the peace conference.

Yet, Mabenge said communication between the South Sudan Council of Churches and the relevant authorities on the ground as well as the budget has not been shared.

“The relationship between the two traditional leaders must be harmonized and the resolved in amicable ways so that it can restore peace in Tambura,” he said.

“Second, the random movement with rifles in Tambura is not advisable. They must also provide budget at least to maintain security before the conference in Tambura so all these things fail to the implemented.”

When contacted by Eye Radio, the General Secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches confirmed receiving a letter from Tambura County Commissioner postponing the peace conference.

Father James Oyet said their role is to facilitate the peace conference to allow the communities dialogue amongst themselves and live in peace.

“We had a meeting with the National Ministry of Peacebuilding and then we take a decision to call off the conference until farther notice,” Oyet confirmed.

“It is up to them to decide, the conference is not for us, we go to facilitate we create the space for them so that they dialogue, they talk and have resolutions of their issues.”

“If they don’t want it in the ground, that is up to them but I’m sorry that the simple innocent people at the grassroot are going to pay the price, the highest price of peace.”

“May the Lord touch the hearts of our leaders who don’t believe in peace, they believe in the context of violence, they believe in a context of hatred they believe in the context of what they wanted to be so may the Lord touch their heart.”

Commenting on the matter, the Press Secretary in the office of the Governor of Western Equatoria said it was not appropriate for Commissioner Mathew Mabenge to postpone the peace conference.

Alex Daniel Digi said Governor Alfred Futuyo was ready to provide security and participate in person during the conference.

“Everyone was ready, even the Governor himself because the governor got the invitation from the Council of Churches. He already gave the approval to them that yes, he will attend the conference and he will provide the security.”

 

 

 

 

 

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