31 January 2013

Sudan: Jonglei - Pibor Peace Talk Stall After Clashes

Juba — Peace talks organised by local leaders in Pibor county of South Sudan's Jonglei state with David Yau Yau's rebels have been delayed by recent clashes in the town, officials say.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Thursday, Pibor county commissioner Joshua Konyi said efforts are being exerted by members of Jonglei state's parliament to reach the militia group in their hideouts in the Lekuangole area.

"The MPs [Members of Parliament] prepared the letter [to invite rebel leader Yau Yau] but it is not yet sent," said Commissioner Konyi.

At least three people died on Sunday when South Sudan's army (SPLA) clashed with James Kuburin, a former rebel leader previously allied to David Yau Yau, who surrendered to the SPLA in December 2012.

Kuburin and his forces surrendered themselves to the SPLA in Pibor on 27 January but a dispute arose when a group of his men tried to enter Pibor market with their weapons.

The United Nations estimates that 2,500 people were forced to flee the fighting. Witnesses told Sudan Tribune that the SPLA had fired "indiscriminately" and that many buildings caught fire.

On Monday, the SPLA said that the security situation in Pibor had returned to normal and Commissioner Konyi said Thursday that people had to returned to the area.

Since the fighting, the whereabouts of Kuburin and his estimated 200 strong force remains unknown.

Jodi Jonglei Boyoris, who represents Pibor county in Jonglei state assembly, said the recent tension in Pibor town dims hopes for realisation of a peaceful solution to the conflict.

"I think it will take some time to get the negotiation started [with Yau Yau]," the MP said.

Yau Yau first rebelled in 2010 following defeat in local parliamentary elections, alleging that the seat he was competing for was fraudulently won by the ruling party's candidate, Jodi Jonglei Boyoris.

The former civilian accepted an presidential amnesty in 2011 and was made a General in the SPLA, but re-launched his rebellion in April 2012, allegedly with the backing of the Sudanese government.

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