A new push to end hostilities between communities in Jonglei and Boma has brought the governors of the two areas to Bor Town, where they resolved to maintain peace in their areas by engaging regularly with each other.
Governors Maker Thiong Mall of Jonglei and David Yau Yau of Boma held their first high-level regional peace and security meeting – supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) – which also brought together their senior advisors and cabinet ministers.
"We, as leaders must work to get hostile communities together; this is how we can demonstrate to our people that we are the same [South Sudanese] people and must live at peace with each other," said David Yau Yau during the two-day meeting.
"Our youth cannot continue shedding blood," he went on, "There is a lot to be done in building the nation. The world has moved on and left us behind. We have to keep the peace that we have, and work at bringing development to our people," Yau Yau noted.
The two governors listed security, disarmament and development of their communities as the bedrock of any sustainable peace, currently being sought at the national level.
"The two states are friends and connected by history and tradition," said Yau Yau. "It's critical that we work together and talk together about our issues," he stressed.
"It is important to take our country back to the level it was before and grow it," said his Jonglei counterpart, Maker Thiong Mall. "No one should be left behind; and this is what we as leaders are doing through interactions. We hope our people will follow to increase interactions in trade, travel and other engagements," he noted.
He called for commitment to the needs of the people, with development as the main priority.
"Our concerns should be for the people of Akobo, Bor, Pibor, Wat and Lankien, and all South Sudanese," Maker said.
In the meeting, which could be described as frank and direct, sharp concerns were raised about child abductions, killings, return of abducted persons, proliferation of arms, and trust building, among others.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 – an outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.
Independence did not end conflict in the country as civil war broke out in 2013 leading to a conflict that has displaced millions, some of whom are returning following the signing of a revitalized peace agreement in September 2018.
The peace agreement has largely held, but intercommunal violence, driven by cattle raiding, continues to disrupt efforts to restore complete normalcy.
It is expected that a delegation from Jonglei will soon pay a reciprocal visit to Boma.