Carte du Sudan

Carte du Sudan
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SOUDAN 100621 Le gouvernement doit garantir que l'aide humanitaire

Churches in Southern Sudan pray for peaceful elections

Jongely Bishop with prayer organizers
Bishop Nathaniel Garang Anyieth with authorities

By Philip Thon Aleu

On the 6th December 2009 Church leaders converged to pray for unity and peace in Jonglei (Southern Sudan) ahead of 2010 general elections.

Under the theme: ’Say no to guns during elections/referendum’ a presiding bishop tells armed youths to hand illegal arms to the government rather killing themselves.

Bishop of Bor diocese (Anglican Church) Nathaniel Garang Anyieth explains that God will answer “our prayers... God is great.” "Give guns to the government," tells him to over 5,000 people from 25 churches of various denominations in Bor Town Freedom Square. “If you refuse to hand arms [to organized forces], we shall pray and that gun will turn against you,” he warns.

The midday function was organized by Jonglei state committee on small arms and light weapons in collaboration with South Sudan bureau for community security and small arms control. The organizers spoke with confidence of peaceful disarmament having had a two days workshop earlier on small arms control with cattle keepers. The need for voluntary disarmament and how small arms – in the hands of civilians are obstacle to the implement of Comprehensive Peace Agreement and democratization process in the country, were also discussed.

Elizabeth Ayen, who chairs the state committee on light weapons, told the Sudan Tribune why she thinks disarmament is possible than before. "We are seeing local people lying down their guns in many counties. This is explanation that people are realizing the importance of peace," she says in reference to reports that northern Counties of Uror, Ayod and Nyirol have started peaceful disarmament by handing guns to local authorities.
In Bor on Sunday the 6th, churches marched through the town before the prayer for freedom that lasted about 3 hours. Different Church groups and ethnic communities lead the prayer. The prayer came two days after South Sudan Bureau for Community Security and Small Arms Control briefed Jonglei state ministers on strategies to disarm local people. The bureau urges that each state has an agreed security strategy and action plan, reactivate dry season courts and ensures that adequate security is provided by organized armed forces before commencing disarmament.

Chuol Gew Nhial, the deputy chairman of South Sudan told reporters on Friday in Bor that "peaceful disarmament is the best". Mr. Gew, however, recommends using SPLA forces as "deter" for efficiency of voluntary disarmament. Recognizing that South Sudan armed forces could not be stationed at communities borders at time, the Bureau, proposes that Juba government should divide the ten states into four clusters of disarmament.

Jonglei and Upper Nile states fell in one cluster as Lakes, Warrap and Unity states in another. Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria states are grouped together as Western and Northern Bar-El Ghazel states fell in one cluster. Jonglei welcomed the plan but expressed concern on disarming neighboring armed communities at different time. The example is Bor and Mundari who are odd neighbors that fell in different clusters. Another example is Teposa and Murle of Jonglei state that share a rough border but could be disarmed one after the other. The most challenge, however, is that each every community want to witness neighbors’ disarmament commencing before giving-in their guns.

The year 2009 has seen many tribal attacks. About 2,000 people are killed in Southern Sudan this year and more than half of this figure are Jonglei citizens. Alongside poor rains, tribal conflicts in Jonglei state has created wide food gap.

If church prayers could a breakthrough, the state welcomes. Deputy Gov. Hussein Mar Nyuot led the government representatives in the prayer today at Freedom Square. Mr. Nyuot praised the church leaders’ intervention and argues the armed youths to cooperate with calls for voluntary disarmament.

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