Yei residents taking part in the peaceful demonstration under the theme “Yei, For Peaceful and Stable Society, for Unity in Diversity”, demanded for the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and armed groups to silence their weapons and resolve their grievances – adhering to the peace agreement.
The event took place amidst uncertainty, with many residents fleeing due to the recent killing of four civilians in Yei and the fresh conflict in the capital Juba earlier in July.
Protestors marched through Yei with banners saying for example “enough is enough, we are tired of war, corruption, tribalism and economic crisis”, or “no need for bloodshed, lay down your weapons, stop war, we are late for development”.
#SouthSudan | #Yei: On Wednesday, July 27, citizens in South Sudan’s Yei demonstrated for peace, denouncing violence across the country. (Photos: theniles.org | Alison Lo Yatta)Posted by theniles.org on Monday, 1 August 2016
“The government has to struggle hard so that in the next year to come, pupils may not suffer from not getting access to education, because most of us pupils, we are displaced, and I’m not sure if these pupils who are in refugee or IDP camps this year will really acquire education this year,” said Spesioja Wandera, a pupil taking part in the protest.
“Most of our children are at home, even if you look at the market now, things (prices) are now going higher. Our concern as youth, we need a stable economy, we need to see a stable political environment for all of us,” said Sala Joseph Jeremiah, another young protestor.
Citizens, church members, pupils, community leaders, chiefs and government officials, including members of parliament and ministers, took part in the two-hour demonstration which ended at Yei’s Freedom Square.
Authorities assure protestors of their commitment
Some political leaders are responsible for inciting violence and misleading the young people to achieve their individual interests, said Jacob Aligo Lo-Lado, a State Member of Parliament. “We the politicians are the cause of this suffering in South Sudan,” he said, advising youths to stay bold in their decisions and not join anyone seeking to achieve interest through violence.
State Brigade Commander, Chol Deng Chol, directed his forces to protect the civil population and pledged to take tough measures against any soldier acting unprofessionally. “Let’s protect our state. Let’s protect and respect the civilians, for a nation is the civil population,” said Chol, who also urged civilians to cooperate with the authorities by providing immediate information on any security issues.
Meanwhile, State Governor David Lokonga, echoed his government’s commitment to work towards implementing the peace agreement, calling on the armed groups to stop highway attacks and looting. He said chiefs should try at the local level to talk to young people: “I want to tell my chiefs, some of you seem to have been misled. Chiefs should not get under the pit and shy to tell these people. Tell them, we don’t have war, we don’t want any bloodshed anymore. Let them return,” Lokonga said.