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Abyei-Twic peace conference commences in Wau

Abyei-Twic peace conference commences in Wau
Chol Deng Alaak [left], Abyei Area Administrative chief; and Manhiem Bol, governor of Warrap State at the peace conference in Wau on Monday, April 3, 2023 | Credit | TRC

A Twic-Abyei peace conference commenced on Monday in Wau’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State under theme: “Let’s dialogue towards saving lives” – with Bahr el Ghazal governors calling for an end to violent attacks.

The four-day conference is aimed at addressing the violent attacks against each other, obstruction of humanitarian aid and access, free movement, safety and security for individuals and communities among others.

It is being attended by 80 participants from Twic and Abyei and ten others from Aweil, some parts of Warrap, Ruweng, Lakes and Unity states. Other states are to act as witnesses of the conference.

Also in attendance are women leaders, youth, chiefs, state and national members of parliament, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal governors and Abyei administrator and civil society groups.

“I sincerely urge and appeal to the participants that enough is enough. Let’s deliberate in the spirit of peace and humanity,” Manhiem Bol, Warrap State governor, said at the opening of the conference on Monday.

For her part, Sarah Cleto, governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal State, asked the two communities to stop the internal conflict and live peacefully.

“If you want to solve any issue, you have to sit down and talk about it. It cannot be solved through violence,” she stated.

In February 2022, the dispute between the two communities over the ownership of Southern Kiir River led to deadly clashes.

Since then, the two communities have been engaging in violent attacks, which have reportedly claimed about 150 lives so far.

The reports of intercommunal conflict continue to be reported nearly 12 months after President Salva Kiir set up a fact-finding committee, which later recommended that the matter be resolved by the national government, with help of experts who have the 1956 historical maps.

Meanwhile, the  Chief Administrator for Abyei, Chol Deng Alaak, urges the two communities to discuss issues of peace with open hearts, having in minds that they are relatives.

“Our communities have suffered a lot for over a year of ensuing violence and senseless [conflict] between nephews and uncles, nieces and aunts – a war in which nothing can be achieved, but total destruction of lives and properties,” he added.

Though the conflict was triggered by the land ownership claims, politicians on both sides are to blame for the attacks between the two communities, according area chiefs.