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Magwi MP refutes reported cattle keeper-farmer peace deal

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Cattle keepers pass through Pageri in Eastern Equatoria State. Photo: Facebook/ Tobias Abuchan‎

A member of the yet-to-be reconstituted national parliament has refuted reports that cattle herders and farmers in Magwi had reached an agreement to co-exist peacefully.

This is after media reports indicated that farmers and cattle keepers in Magwi agreed on some form of justice mechanisms to enhance peaceful coexistence between them.

Farmers in the area have often accused roving cattle keepers of grazing cattle in their farms hence destroying crops and livelihoods.

They further accused the herders of intimidation, violent hostilities and kidnapping.

On the other hand, the cattle keepers have accused the farmers of stealing and killing their animals.

In October, representatives of the Acholi and Dinka Bor communities reportedly held a three-day forum organized by a local organization, the South Sudan Peacebuilding Opportunity Fund.

The forum held at Obama Village, along the Juba-Nimule highway, was to resolve tensions between the farmers and the herders.

According to media reports, the communities resolved to fix penalties for cattle theft and killers as well as penalties for cattle found destroying farms.

However, an MP representing Agoro constituency in Magwi County dismissed the reports as untrue.

“On my own behalf and on behalf of Agoro Acholi community, we wish to categorically refute reports published on Radio Tamazuj and other media houses 0n 22 October 2020, titled: ‘Farmers and cattle keepers have resolved to co-exist peacefully in Magwi County Eastern Equatroa State,’” Hon. Otim David Okot told Eye Radio.

Otim further stated that they did not authorize the NGO to initiate dialogue between the farmers and the pastoralists.

“Neither the chairman of Agoro community nor the chairman of Acholi community signed the so called resolution,” he added.

President Salva Kiir, in 2017 issued a decree ordering cattle keepers to move all their livestock out of the Greater Equatoria region.

A committee was also set up to ensure that the animals were returned to their respective states.

However, cattle are still moving freely and destroying farms in the region.

People affected by ‘natural disasters’

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the greater Bor community has appealed to communities in Equatoria region to peacefully coexist with cattle keepers, saying the pastoralists will soon return to their homes of origin.

Michael Makuei stated that the herders are victims of natural calamities in their states.

He attributed their displacement to the persistent raids and flash floods in their home state.

Humanitarian agencies say over 340, 000 people have been displaced from areas along the Nile River.

Makuei who leads the Greater Bor Community promised that when the floods subside, the cattle keepers will return to their original homes.

“My only appeal to the [host] communities is that they should accommodate them because these are people affected by natural disasters,” he told Eye Radio on Tuesday.

“And as such, there is a need to accommodate and give them the necessary support until that time they are in a position to return.”

Makuei further stressed that any cattle keeper who allows his animals to destroy farms while in Equatoria region should be penalized.

“If they have destroyed anybody’s crops, the law takes its course and the [owner] should be tried and pay compensations for destroying crops,” he added.

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