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Civil-military dialogue kicks off with calls for peace, unity

A civil-military dialogue commenced in Loka west Boma – Kenyi Payam of Lainya County on Wednesday with calls for peaceful co-existence according to a press statement by Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO)

CEPO says more than 50 community leaders, women, youth, local officials, religious leaders, and members of the military representing the government (SSPDF) are attending the event.

Loka west Boma was badly hit and affected by numerous insurgencies such as the armed opposition forces, National Salvation Front (NAS) and cattle keepers. 

Speaking at the opening of the forum, the Lainya County commissioner, Emmanuel Khamis Richard said dialogue provides a platform to discuss ways of rebuilding fractured social cohesion and trust between civilians and the military.

“As chiefs you can choose a day and visit the army barracks and create channels of communication with the army so that if a civilian is arrested you can be notified. The chiefs should always lead by example,” he explained.

The commissioner urged the army to allow the free movement of civilians to encourage refugees and the internally displaced people to return home.

“Each and everyone has a role to play and one of the things that can boost the return of the population is free movement,” he said, adding “There are people using bikes along the road, let them move. This is an order from today, let there be free movement on the roads. Don’t frighten the population.”

Malish John Scopas, the Project Officer for CEPO in Lainya said the three-day civil-military dialogue will support social cohesion and promote stabilization between politically divided communities, returnees and the host communities.

“This civil-military dialogue will promote sustainable security, peace and development by creating peaceful and conducive environment for the returnees and IDPs to return to Loka west Boma and rebuild their lives,” he remarked.

Malish, however, said CEPO seeks to support locally driven solutions led by religious and community leaders who are influential in resolving the local conflicts.

“The event will restore trust and confidence between civilians and military,” he said.

In 2016, clashes between the armed opposition fighters (SPLA-IO) and government forces, coupled by the current NAS insurgency and worsened by attacks from cattle keepers have destroyed livelihoods.

This has resulted into the displacement of civilians in Loka west Boma to Lainya center and to refugee camps in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Meanwhile, the deputy commander of the SSPDF ground forces in Lainya, Col. John Malou urged the soldiers to respect and protect civilians in the area.

“Peaceful co-existence is important. So, I want you soldiers to always protect civilians so that they do not fear and rebel against you,” he noted.

Led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with support from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Reconciliation, Stabilization and Resilience Trust Fund  (RSRTF) project is designed to help communities in Yei, Lainya, Morobo and Kajo-Keji counties reconcile and end violence, bring stability where they live, and create new incentives to sustain peaceful coexistence.

This story is from a press release by CEPO

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