Truth Empowers – The Short History of Lirya Rural Council, Revisited [Part 1]
BY Christopher Sebit
The motivation behind writing this article stems from the desire to correct inappropriate and misleading views about the history of Lirya Rural Council (LRC) expressed by some of the participants in the recently concluded land conflict resolution meeting at Lomega. Correcting erroneous opinions enhances conflict resolution efforts.
The Government Resolution No. 800/91, dated 30th November 1991, and subsequent Decree No. 42/91, dated 8th December 1991 of the Military Governor of Equatoria Region; H.E. Major General Saturnino Ariha Giant created LRC. Lirya ‘A’ Court, Lowoi ‘A’ Court and Lokiliri ‘A’ Court were the component courts of LRC.
Decree No. 42/91 says that:  the name of the Council shall be Lirya Rural Council;  the administrative headquarters of the Rural Council shall be at Lirya;  sub-rural councils shall be established simultaneously at Lowoi ‘A’ Court and Lokiliri ‘A’ Court with the view to upgrading them to full councils in future when they attain requisite levels of development;  Lirya Rural Council shall be incorporated into Bahr El Jebel Province.
Unfortunately, LRC met its sad demise when the Governor of Eastern Equatoria State declared Lowoi as a local council in Imatong Province— thus disrupting the hard-won autonomy, peace and unity of LRC. On 9th November 1995, the citizens of Lowoi Community residing in Juba sent a protest letter to the Governor of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) with copies to the Governor of Bahr El Jebel State and Commissioner of Bahr El Jebel Province. In their protest letter, they referred to the action of the Governor of EES as an act of gross interference into the affairs of LRC in particular and Bahr El Jebel State in general. They demanded immediate cancellation of the decree of EES creating Lowoi Local Council under Imatong Province. The demand fell on deaf ears. The signatories of the protest letter were  Celerino Monai;  Ephrem Loromo;  Andrew Tombek;  Clement Loku;  Fr. Chaca Kosta; and  Chief Tito Omal.
On 10th November 1995, the people of LRC petitioned the Governor of Bahr El Jebel State. They requested the governor to remind the President of the Republic to speed up the approval of the amendment of the boundaries of the two councils: LRC and Torit Rural Council. There was zero response from the Governor of Bahr El Jebel State. The people of LRC who signed the petition addressed to the Governor of Bahr El Jebel State were:  Anthony Ariki Lowely;  Fr. Chaca Kosta;  Celerino Monai;  Chief Peter Lokiyek;  Chief Tartisio Jada;  Chief Tito Omal;  Abraham Ladu;  Silvestro Omini;  Anatolio Wani;  Santino Okanyi;  Vitaliano Wani Kwele;  Effrem Loromo;  Saturnino Kenyi;  Anna kaku; and  Amosa T. Benjamin.
The 15 petitioners argued that the people of LRC for which Lowoi ‘A’ Court is the integral part are peace loving people, who do not want to be provoked by anybody. “We therefore appeal to your excellency to speed up the approval of the amendment of the boundary between LRC in Bahr El Jebel State and Torit Rural Council in EES, and the Wali of EES to cancel his decree for the creation of Lowoi as a rural council. We do not want to return to the colonial policy of dividing the Lokoya”, the petitioners stressed. It is worth noting that throughout the greater part of the Anglo-Egyptian or Condominium government in Sudan the whole of Lokoya land was administered from Torit District, while the Lulubo land was administered from Juba District. To suit the colonial policy of “divide and rule”, the Condominium regime (in 1930) divided the Lokoya land into two parts in such a manner that placed Lirya ‘A’ Courts under Juba District and Lowoi ‘A’ Court under Torit District. That marked the beginning of the political cancer befalling the Lokoya people today.
In what appeared to be the mother of all protests, the citizens of LRC sent a petition, dated 21st November 1996, to the Chairman of Peace and Mobilization and Political Affairs Committee in Bahr El Jebel State Representative Assembly. There were 20 signatories to the petition, namely, Lirya ‘A’ Court:  Anthony Ariki Lowely;  Chief Peter Lokiyek;  Anatolio Wani;  Saturnino Kenyi;  Saturnino Wani;  Anania Modi Lolik; and  Saturnino Ariha. Lowoi ‘A’ Court:  Fr. Chaca Kosta;  Celerino Monai;  Ephrem Loromo;  Louis Silivino Tombe;  Andrew Tombe;  Clement Loku;  Isaac Nyaluka; and  Sabastiano Nyilock. Lokiliri ‘A’ Court:  Abraham Lado;  Chief Vitaliano Wani;  Anna Kaku;  Amos T. Benjamin; and  Mark Legge. The petition of LRC citizens highlighted the impact of border dispute on security and peaceful coexistence. “The border dispute is likely to disrupt peace efforts between the citizens of Lirya Local Council in Bahr El Jebel Province and Torit Local Council in Imatong Province”, says the petition.
Interestingly, the intransigent administration on the side of Torit and indecisive administration on the side of Juba frustrated unity efforts—forcing few individual political elites to abandon unity arrangements in favour of splitting LRC with a view to gaining greener pastures in Torit and Juba. Consequently, the first opportunity for unity based on 1991 local government autonomy ended in 1995 with the fragmentation of LRC into three local councils: Lirya and Lokiliri Local Councils in Bahr El Jebel Province and Lowoi Local Council in Imatong Province. With the formation of the GOSS in 2005, Lirya and Lokiliri Local Councils assumed the status of payams under Juba County, while Lowoi became a payam under Torit County.
Lomega: Juba Monitor’s opinion writer: Christopher Sebit taking notes in front of the statue of Captain Robert Chavellier Cooke, Commissioner of Mangalla, Rejaf and Juba Districts, 1918-1946.
Lomega: Pillars of ECSS built at foot of Bete Mountain by Archbishop Paul Benjamin Yugusuk.Lomega: The front side of unfinished house belonging to Archbishop Paul Benjamin Yugusuk.