By William Madouk
The newly appointed senior presidential Advisor on Special Program, Dr. Benjamin Bol Mel has been urged by President Salva Kiir to normalize diplomatic ties and recent border disputes with neighboring Kenya.
President Kiir appointed Bol Mel as Senior Presidential Advisor in December last year through presidential decree read out on the state owned TV – radio SSBC. However, the decree did not specify the tasks and duties.
The Head of state during the swearing-in ceremony yesterday, said the country image globally is tainted and tasked Mr. Mel roles of polishing bilateral relations and Nadapal border disputes with Kenya.
“Our relations are tarnished around the world, as you take up your new assignment, go and normalize our relations with Kenya especially the recent tension along the border corridor and also improve our diplomatic relations with other Countries,” said the President.
President Kiir reiterated that he will never take the country back to war no matter how the situation is.
On his part, Bol Mel, the senior presidential Advisor on Special Programs accepted the task and said, he will ensure acceleration of economic growth powered by investment in agriculture and infrastructure development.
Bol Mel further noted that he will do so through job creation and also among other practical interventions to design strong economic policies for sustainable economic growth in the country.
On Monday, fighting erupted between the Toposa of South Sudan and the Turkana of Kenya in Eastern Equatoria State over borderland. This was after Kenyan authority claimed that Nadapal is their border.
However, the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation urged the bordering communities in South Sudan to remain calm, assuring them that no land would be taken from South Sudan.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Dau said the government was aware of the situation and will engage its Kenyan counterpart to ensure that the issue is resolved.
Nevertheless, Deng stated that the issue of the border remains as a concern of the national government, adding that the government would not leave it to either the youth or communities.
Benjamin Bol was sanctioned by the U.S. government in December 2017, over alleged corruption linked to his business firms.
His corporate companies – Thai South Sudan Crusher, Aggregates, and Building Materials Company (ABMC) were designated by the United States for their involvement in corruption in South Sudan.
Also, in December 2021, the US Treasury Department sanctioned two companies ARC Resource Corporation Ltd and Winners Construction Company Ltd owned by Dr. Bol Mel.
But the ARC, Africa Resource Corporation has denied the accusations, and asked the US government to explain in detail how it got involved in the embezzlement of public resources.
The ARC says it will continue operating, despite the US sanctions. It is currently building urban roads within Juba city and Juba-Bor Highway among other major road infrastructure projects in the country.