NSCC PRESS RELEASE

PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE PEACE PROCESS MAKES

BREAKTHROUGH AMONG NUER

24 August 1999

Nairobi, Kenya. The New Sudan Council of Churches announced a major breakthrough in the People-to-People peace process in southern Sudan. Three opposing military forces among the Lou Nuer on the East Bank of the Nile River have agreed to cease all hostilities, move toward uniting and coordinating their military forces and defining a future common political agenda, reestablish proper civil administration and freedom of movement for all people in the area, and support the work of Non-Government Organizations and the United Nations Operation Lifeline Sudan in services to the people. A popular peace march will be held in September. And a major Governance Conference in October will finalize political and security arrangements for the area using traditional methods of conflict resolution and community reconciliation.

Since May 1999 three rival military forces have clashed with one another in the Lou Nuer area of Upper Nile. The town of Akobo, on the Pibor River bordering Sudan and Ethiopia, has changed hands and been under control of each of the three groups at different stages. In a 68 mile distance the three forces were congregated in Akobo, Kaikweny, and Waat. Tensions have remained high in the civil community and between the rival forces resulting in the withdrawal of humanitarian organizations and the inability of the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver urgently needed food for communities suffering very high rates of malnutrition. Medical care, water projects, agricultural and animal health programmes had all come to a halt. Armed civilian raids had developed along the borders of the Lou Nuer with the Gawaar Nuer and the Jikany Nuer as the military forces concentrated in the areas of the clashes and failed to provide security and restraint in other Lou areas. The Lou people, the largest section of Nuer on the East side of the Nile River, were facing growing lawlessness and severe hunger.

The Nuer Peace Team, under the facilitation of the New Sudan Council of Churches and the active support of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, launched a shuttle mission designed to bring the leadership of the three military groups to one location and sit with key local chiefs and church leaders. During the three day process extended discussions were held with leadership groups and civilian communities to clarify key issues and choose delegates that could resolve the issues. A total of sixteen flights were made in the three days, shuttling team members and delegates between Waat, Kaikwiny and Akobo. A final meeting in Akobo on Thursday 18 August brought the top leaders face-to-face resulting in the breakthrough agreements. The UN World Food Programme immediately announced plans for food drops to feed a hungry populations and NGOs announced plans to return to the area to serve the populations in support of the People-to-People peace movement.

The main points of the agreement to which all concerned parties committed themselves are as follows:

  1. Commitment to establish peace and reconciliation in the whole of Lou Nuer area immediately.
  2. Cessation of all forms of hostilities among all the military forces in the area, i.e. SSDF, SPLA in Kaikwiny and Forces of Cdr. Simon Gatwec Dual.
  3. All military forces in the area will work together in evolving a common political agenda.
  4. Free movement of members of the military forces in the area and their peaceful co-existence.
  5. Establishment of civil administration in the area that can respond effectively to the needs and problems of the people of the area and to ensure the security of persons and property and the provision of badly needed services.
  6. Allow free and unhindered access of NGOs to all parts of Lou Nuer to alleviate the present suffering of the people and to meet their basic needs in food, health, clean drinking water, education etc.
  7. Forces of Cdr. Simon Gatwec are to move as soon as possible from Akobo to Waat area and join the forces of Commanders Peter Bol Kong and David Reath Malual and the forces of Cdr. Chot Riek Pathot. All these forces will co-operate in guaranteeing peace and security in the area.
  8. The combined force in the area is to take immediate steps to stop any further deterioration in the Lou-Gawaar situation that has been characterised by mutual attacks and raiding of cattle.
  9. All persons displaced by recent fighting in Akobo are to return to their homes immediately.
  10. A popular peace march will be planned for and staged during the third week of September by the people of Lou Nuer starting from Akobo and going to Kaikwiny and Waat as an expression of their commitment to peace and reconciliation among themselves and with their neighbors.
  11. A Lou Governance Conference is to be held during the month of October 1999 in which all problems affecting the area will be discussed and solutions found to them, including the establishment and implementation of civil administrative structures. All Lou elders, politicians, intellectuals and military leaders will be invited to this conference.
  12. The spirit of this agreement reached this day in Akobo, will be extended to other Nuer areas facing similar problems. This cooperative model will therefore be recommended for application in Nasir, Fangak and Bentiu areas.

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For Further Information on the NSCC facilitated People-to-People peace process

Contact the NSCC Peace Desk in Nairobi

Phone: 254-2-446966 or 448141

Fax: 254-2-447015

Email: peacedesk@swiftkenya.com

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8/26/1999