By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
October 12, 2012 (BENTIU) – Chiefs from the Bul-Nuer and Misseriya ethnic group completed a peace committee training in conflict management dialogue in Mayom County of Unity state facilitated by Concordis International.
- Misseriya leaders (UN)
Between 29 February and 2 March a resolution was reached by parties from both groups, requesting Concordis training.
The talks have brought up the subject of reopening a trade route between the two communities. However, this is likely to be hampered by the oncoming rainy season.
The recent talks were attended by 20 participants including Misseriya, Bul-Nuer, trade union members, women representatives and administrators.
Earlier this year the Sudanese army (SAF) and South Sudanese army (SPLA) engaged in armed conflict in the contested Heglig region, which brought the neighbours to the brink of all-out conflict less than a year after South Sudan seceded from Sudan.
Since fighting between SAF and the northern faction of SPLA erupted in South Kordofan just before South Sudan’s independence on 9 July 2011 border has been closed by Khartoum. Sudan’s First Vice President Ali Osman Taha even warned northern traders they would be shot if they attempted to cross the the new international border.
However, after a deal last month reached between South Sudan and Sudan in Addis Ababa over border and security issues on October 7 Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced that the border would be reopened.
At the meeting in Mayom County the Misseriya representatives communities signed cross-border agreements with Mayom authorities through chiefs’ dialogue, agreeing to allow the Misseriya entrance into the state for their cattle to graze and for trading.
Although cattle raiding and killing remains an ongoing problem between the two communities, 2012 is proving more peaceful since the implementation of agreements. Neither community has reported inter-ethnic violence deaths or cattle raiding instances this year.
William Nhial Gatluak, a paramount chief representing Mayom County, told Sudan Tribune on Friday that there is a need to build a good relations among both communities for there to be lasting peace.
“When we are in peace with Misseriya I think this local community of Bul should graze their cattle near the border also the Misseriya can come with their cattle grazing in the area of Bul because those community and these community they are living together since the old Sudan,” said Gatluak.
There are allegations that during the border closure members of the Misseriya continued to trade with South Sudan, by smuggling goods across the world’s newest border. The economies of South Sudanese states bordering Sudan have suffered due to border closure.
It is hoped that recent agreements signed by Juba and Khartoum will free up trade across the border and reduce the instances of illegal trading.
Al-Khir Ismail Al-Khir, a paramount chief of the Misseriya, that for real peace between the Bul-Nuer and Misseriya, the youths of both their communities must be better educated.
In 1986 a peace agreement was signed by the Sudanese People Liberation Army with the Misseriya group in Rubnyagai by the current Vice President of South Sudan Riek Macahr allowing them freedom of movement in Unity State. The interest of SPLA was to have secure movement while it foughts the Sudanese government in civil war that lasted from 1983 until a peace deal in 2005.
The Misseriya have stated that 1986 agreement permits them to carry arms.
The Unity State coordination officer of Concordis International, George Mabany Chakuoth, said the agreement has improved relations between the two communities and hopes that this will allow them to make better use of the resources available to them.