Details of a peace agreement that for a long time seemed distant finally reached Tambura recently – for the first time – stirring excitement as residents got firsthand access to its content in their local language.
“What we have heard here in Ezo today is very important because it is what we were expecting,” said impressed Ezo County Paramount Chief, Anthony Ture Gbatanyeki, acknowledging the maiden reach of the message about the revitalized peace agreement to his people.
“We were not getting [any information] about what is happening with the peace process,” the chief went on. “Now we have heard the information about peace, and we want it to immediately start today, not tomorrow. When the president and his deputy meet, let them stay in peace and harmony. Secondly, we don’t want the presidency subordinates to incite more violence,” he concluded.
The chief’s earnest appeal followed a public dissemination exercise – by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division, in partnership with the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) – of the agreement, officially known as the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, in the Tambura area.
Conducted in four major counties, including Tambura, Ezo, Naandi and Yangiri, the dissemination campaign ran for nearly a week, with Ethiopian military peacekeepers serving with UNMISS providing a watchful protective force as the delegation crisscrossed the rain-drenched equatorial terrain spanning the entire Tambura area.
“When the team leader of NPTC told us here that both Salva Kiir and Riak met in Juba and discussed issues, this has given us hope that on 12th November, something positive will happen for peace,” said Martin Zagi, an optimistic youth member of the community.
“The purpose of the visit is to make sure that every citizen in Tambura State has to receive the information about the revitalized peace agreement. By the way this agreement is very unique because at the moment, with the support of partners, we managed to produce [it] in five national languages, that is: Zande, Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk and Bari, and we are in the process of producing more so that we make sure the grassroots men and women in South Sudan get to own this agreement, and give their support,” said Buoy Yhat, head of the National Pre-Transitional Committee delegation, which comprised two women and a journalist.
Supporting the peace process is one of the key mandates of the UN Mission in South Sudan, and this dissemination exercise fell squarely within that role.
“The purpose of this programme is to make sure that we bring the revitalized peace agreement from the national level to the grassroots level so that all of us; all of you in the country as citizens of South Sudan, have the same understanding of the agreement,” said Emmanuel Ndukundane, the UNMISS Civil Affairs Officer in Yambio who led the field mission to Tambura.
Although the revitalized peace agreement was signed on 12 September last year, details of its contents are yet to reach everyone across South Sudan, especially at the grassroots – a gap that UNMISS, in partnership with the country’s National Pre-Transitional Committee, is trying to close with such dissemination exercises.