LILIIR PEACE CONFERENCE
EAST BANK NILOTIC PEOPLE TO PEOPLE PEACE & RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE, UPPER NILE, SUDAN, MAY 2000
"ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT BREAKTHROUGH IN THE EXPANDING SOUTHERN SUDANESE GRASSROOTS PEACE PROCESS"
The momentum behind the southern Sudanese grassroots peace process continues to quietly, but firmly, progress. Another dramatic breakthrough was achieved in a small village called Liliir, in the Bor area of Upper Nile, between the 9th and the 15th of May.
Under the auspices of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), over 250 traditional and civil leaders, representing members of the Anyuak, Dinka, Jie, Kachipo, Murle and Nuer ethnic groups from the region, came together to address the deep division and conflict that have arisen between them, especially as a result of the country's 17 year long civil war.
The Liliir assembly was inspired by the success of the previous 'West Bank Dinka Nuer'
Conference (in Wunlit, March 1999), and numerous mini 'people-to-people' agreements since then. The Wunlit achievement was unanimously endorsed by the delegates, church leaders, and other observers present (including a letter of support from the SPLM leadership).
The Upper Nile conference was both complex and challenging, given the many ethnic groups that make up the region. While traditional hostilities have prevailed for generations among some of the groups, they have been aggravated (and in many cases manipulated) by the warring parties in recent years. The conference welcomed the public declaration by a number of military officers who, in their capacity as civilian observers, pledged their commitment to the people-to-people peace process.
The conference functioned as a forum for people to face each other, discuss their differences and agree to reconcile and make peace. Given the high attendance, the outcome at Liliir was successful, and practical agreements over issues such as access to animal grazing areas, water points and the return of abducted children and women, were sealed. An amnesty for all prior offences against people and their property was also agreed. The occasion concluded with the making of a public covenant between the ethnic groups, when 129 representatives signed a comprehensive document pledging peace and reconciliation.
The conference regretted however that the wishes of the Gawaar-Nuer to participate in the reconciliation process was denied by an Upper Nile faction. The delegates requested that these, and other groups who did not have opportunity to participate in the conference, be given a chance to meet and reconcile as soon as possible. This, they said, was the wish of the people.
For further information please contact Liz Phillippo atPeacedesk@swiftkenya.com,
ANYUAK, DINKA, JIE, KACHIPO, MURLE AND NUER
who attended the
EAST BANK PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE PEACE & RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE
LILIIR, BOR COUNTY, UPPER NILE, SUDAN
(May 9th to the 15th, 2000)
A gathering of traditional and civil leaders was convened in Liliir (Bor, county), to reconcile the differences and conflicts between the Anyuak, Dinka (Bor & Padang), Jie, Kachipo, Murle (Boma) and Nuer (Gawaar & Lou), and to establish harmony and peace amongst themselves. The spirit of the conference was reflected at the opening by the ceremonial sacrifice of a ‘White Bull’, and concluded with the declaration of a joint covenant between the represented ethnic groups. The covenant was sealed with the sacrifice of a ‘White Ox’, the offering of Christian worship, and the signatures of each of the participating delegates and observers, publicly recorded. The following outlines their covenant:
"Under the facilitation of the NSCC, and witnessed by many church leaders and other citizens of Sudan, we, the delegates of the Liliir conference have established a covenant of peace and reconciliation between us. We declare our intention today to cease from hostile acts, and commit ourselves to the practical measures necessary to ensure the integrity and sustainability of our agreement. Recalling the spirit and wisdom handed down from our ancestors, and the memory of our daughters and sons who have unnecessarily died over the past 10 years, we pledge ourselves to observe and implement this covenant and its accompanying resolutions.
We have unanimously agreed that:
In conclusion, we appeal that the people from Upper Nile who were either blocked or did not have an opportunity to participate in the conference be told about our deliberations and be encouraged to meet with us in the near future so that the East Bank peoples’ peace process can be widened and deepened. This covenant reflects the will of the people represented at Liliir. It incorporates the resolutions of the conference (attached), and we urge that they be implemented with the full assistance and protection of the civil authorities under all of the southern liberation movements. We hope that the friends of Upper Nile will support our efforts and consolidate our desire for peace."
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