16th June 2019
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Gov’ts responsible for loss of lives in Tonj-Wau clashes -Advocate

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: 3 months ago

An Inter-State Coordinating Committee forum between Tonj and Wau local leaders organized by UNMISS to regulate cattle movement and reduce tensions between farmers and pastoralists on 10 January 2018. Photo: UNMISS

An advocate says the State governments of Tonj and Wau may be subject to legal action for the destruction of lives and property in Kwajina County, Wau state.

This is because the advocate believes officials failed to prevent clashes between cattle keepers and farmers from the two states -neighboring each other.

Andrew Akuei, who practices law in Juba, said the national government too -is to blame for failing to fulfill its mandate of protecting civilians.

Last week, more than 15 people were reportedly killed, 20 others injured and women and girls raped in the multiple attacks in Kwajina.

Related story: https://eyeradio.org/tonj-directs-its-cattle-keepers-to-leave-wau-state/

He said the national and state constitutions tasks both governments to protect civilians and maintain human rights, as its primary responsibility.

“They are liable for failing to help them… why should they fail to stop controlling people,” Akuei said.

According to officials, the incidents occurred when a group of armed pastoralists attacked some villages there – a conflict the leaders attributed to destruction of farms by the cattle from Tonj.

In December 2016, an agreement between Tonj, Gogrial and Wau leaders called; the ‘Marial Bai Agreement’ obligated the 3 governments to regulate the relationship between pastoralists and farmers.

This month, President Salva Kiir embarked on a tedious road trip to spread the message of peace and rally support for the Revitalized Peace Agreement in the Bahr el Ghazal region.

Nadia Mahjoub, an MP representing Kwajina at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly said the killings between the two communities in Bahr el Ghazal is a “slap” in the face of the President since it happened days after he toured the area.

“I am very sorry because the people don’t respect even the President. The President has tried. He traveled by road from Juba to spread the message of peace, to tell South Sudanese to accept the peace,” said Nadia.

“Even his speech about the issue of cattle keepers and farmers in his address in Wau stadium; the President directed people to respect each other, whether cattle keepers or farmers. He told cattle keepers that they should not bring the cattle to destroy farms.”

She also wondered why the national government is “silent” over the issue, yet it violates the message of the President.

But Michael Makuei Lueth, the National Minister of Information said the government attributes these clashes to famine, drought, and floods “where there is hunger.”

He, however, could not give a definite answer on whether the government is doing anything to address the matter or hold the state governments accountable for failing to prevent the clashes.

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