Inter-communal peace governance in Jonglei and the GPAA

The implementation of the Pieri peace process continues with the inception workshop for inter-communal structures for traditional, youth and women leaders, respectively…

Six months have passed since the Pieri Agreement that brought together traditional, youth and women leaders of Dinka Bor, Murle and Lou Nuer and established a framework for peace among the three communities. The agreement called for the establishment of three community-led governance structures: traditional leaders, youth and women, respectively. On Tuesday 26 October in Bor, with these communities now also joined by representatives of the Gawaar Nuer, the inception workshop for the three inter-communal structures began, opened by the Governor of Jonglei State.

Speakers at the workshop opening noted that key representatives of the governance system were all in the room – State Government authorities and advisors, from the Governor down to the Commissioners, as well as Traditional, Youth and Women leaders. With proper continuity in the process, and mutual accountability, this group can ensure the sustainability of the peace.

The peace process had begun before the formation of the Jonglei State and GPAA Governments, and today the Government assumed responsibility for its part in maintaining the peace. Governor Denay Jok Chagor particularly focussed in his remarks on the dissemination of the agreement across the communities, from the boma level upwards, underlining that the primary responsibility is with the community. The Government relies on effective communication from them in order to discharge its responsibility around the rule of law in particular.

As well as the Governor, Deputy Governor Antipas Nyok, State Legal Advisor Ding Akol and State Minister of Peacebuilding Malual Gabriel all underlined the centrality to the process of abductee identification, return and reunification. The return of abducted women and children between Lou Nuer and Murle, and between Dinka Bor and Murle is unprecedented numbers, now reaching almost 100. Misunderstandings have arisen along the way, as well as logistical and resourcing challenges in supporting the transit process, materially and psycho-socially. Nonetheless, the community identifies this both as a key achievement to date, as well as its continuation as a key aspiration for the ongoing peace.

The communities recognise that there is positive progress in reduction of violent incidents more generally – cattle raiding, road ambushes and abductions. But the incidents still continue as a thorn in the side of the process. Identifying a mechanism for effective response to these incidents and, where possible, prevention, is a key objective of this workshop.

As the State Legal Advisor Ding Akol noted, these issues quickly become emotional ones, and to remain committed to the longer-term peace in the midst of those emotions is a challenge and requires courage from the community leadership. As he highlighted examples of where community leaders have already shown that courage, he also reminded everyone of the responsibility that comes with their leadership position.

‘If you are a coward, please move away from this peace, because this peace is for brave people.’

Hon Ding Akol, Jonglei State Legal Advisor

This theme of responsibility and accountability resonated throughout the opening. In Pieri, the community leaders had ten days to work through issues. They have only three days here in Bor to outline the framework for the community governance mechanisms that will consolidate the peace moving forward.

This community governance structures project and associated threads of peacebuilding activities in Jonglei and GPAA are supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office, the Peacebuilding Opportunities Fund (POF), the Reconciliation, Stabilisation and Resilience Trust Fund (RSRTF), Shejah Selam and Caritas Germany.

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