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JUBA - 3 Feb 2023

CEPO calls for joint UN-CTSAMVM investigation into runaway communal violence

CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani [File Photo]
CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani [File Photo]

The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) on Friday called for a joint UN and  Ceasefire & Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring & Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) investigation into escalating violence and killings in the country.

On Thursday, 21 civilians were reportedly dragged out of their homes. They were gunned down in Lire Payam in Central Equatoria State’s Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists suspected to be from Bor in Jonglei State.

“The deadly armed communal violence across South Sudan is taking a worse shape and the perpetrators of these deadly acts of violence are not held accountable. CEPO is seriously disturbed by the weak capacity of the central and state governments in preventing this armed deadly and inhuman violence among our communities across the country,” the CEPO statement read. “These are fueled and aided by political and military elites in the system of the government. The armed youth or individuals involved in all forms of cattle raiding, cattle herders-farmers clashes and revenge attacks, and other forms of deadly communal violence normally keep on telling us they are directed and or instructed by their elites. This trend requires urgent intervention.”

CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani, said the United Nations Human Rights Commission, CSTAMVM, and the UN panel of experts should undertake a joint investigation into the deadly violence.

“This should produce a concrete report with names of individuals who have contributed directly and indirectly in fuelling and aiding the deadly communal violence,” he said. “Publishing the names of the individuals fueling and aiding armed violence is one of the best strategies for preventing deadly violence.”

Yakani also challenged the country’s leadership to be proactive in containing the deadly violence.

“The drivers of most deadly violence are political, defense, and security elites in the system or opposition. The scale of the violence may push communities to establish defense forces that can easily undermine the presence of the government at any level,” Yakani said. “The armed violence between farmers and cattle herders and cattle raiding and revenge attacks are all fueled and aided by elites across the country. These elites who are fuelling and aiding the deadly violence should be named and face the law.”

CEPO urged the national government to urgently adopt a strategy for mitigating and preventing further deadly violence.

“Extremism is taking serious root among our communities due to continued armed violence,” the statement concluded.

Yakani, in another statement, condemned Thursday’s killing of 21 civilians in Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists believed to be from Bor in Jonglei State.

“I would like to strongly condemn the killing of 21 innocent citizens in Lire Payam in Kajo Keji. AS CEPO, we are disturbed and strongly condemn this incident and urge that the perpetrators be brought to book by the concerned authorities,” he said. “We are aware that this incident happened on the visit of the Pope and other religious leaders. IT also happened when CEPO tried to de-escalate incidents of violence in Kajo Keji where we facilitated a joint team from the state governments of Jonglei State and Central Equatoria to meet and mitigate the rise in violence.”

“We also asked the pastoralists to leave Kajo Keji and return to their areas of origin as per President Salva Kiir’s order,” he added.

Yakani said it was worrying that the Kajo Keji killings happened even as CEPO was trying to address the issue of violence between herders and the people of Kajo Keji. He urged the Jonglei State and Central Equatoria authorities to find a durable solution to the problem.