South Sudan: Lakes Governor Warns His State Not to Enter Wau Conflct

Wau — The Governor of Lakes State, Chol Tong Mayay addressed the congregation at Good Shepherd Cathedral in Wau on Tuesday to call upon citizens in Western Bahr el Ghazal to reconcile their differences before the New Year and warned citizens from his state not to become involved in the recent violence.

The government of South Sudan's north western state erupted into violence this month over resistance to the government's decision to transfer the headquarters of Wau County outside of the state capital.

According to the United Nations nine people were killed when protestors clashed with police in Wau town on 8 and 9 December. Several people sustained gunshot wounds and were admitted to Wau hospital.

Ten days after the initial violent protests a further 12 people are reported to have died in a second protest on Tuesday 18 December with more people wounded. South Sudan's deputy interior minister, Salva Mathok Gengdit, however, said that only seven people died and 32 were wounded in the second Wau incident.

The second protest was in response to reports that 26 Dinka civilians were killed by members of the Balanda ethnic group in Parajallah 48 miles south west of Wau. Parajallah is a locality in Bagari - the area where the new headquarters is being transferred to.

Governor Mayay told the thousands of worshipers at the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) that he was urging the people of Lakes State, which is predominantly inhabited by the Dinka ethnic group, not to become involved in the Wau violence.

"People of Rumbek, you must stay away in making problem with citizen of Wau. You are one people with [the] same dignity with Wau citizens. You [are] all citizens of South Sudan who voted for separation and finally you brought peace to your coming generation."

Mayay asked that South Sudanese build a peaceful nation that respects human dignity. There was no reason why people should be killed, he said. He called for the cycle of violence to end and for the world's youngest nation to promote "cultures of togetherness" to provide hope and better future for the next generation.

On Monday South Sudan President General Salva Kiir Mayardit visited Wau, the capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal and immediately backed state governor Rizik Zechariah for his decision to move the Wau County headquarters.

South Sudan's ruling party has long advocated that the services available in towns should be provided to citizens in rural areas. The transfer of the Wau County headquarters was part of this vision, Kiir said.

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