National, News

Kiir sets roadmap to end border row

By Gladys Fred Kole


President Salva Kiir has passed his position paper on the settlement of the South Sudan-Uganda borderline dispute to his Ugandan counterpart, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Kiir reportedly handed over five resolutions to Uganda’s state minister of defense, Hon. Hajjat Oleru Huda, during their meeting in Juba at State House J1 on Thursday.

The resolution contains action points that give a roadmap to resolve the South Sudan and Uganda border wrangles that have intensified in recent years.

Last month, local authorities in Kajo-Keji County, Central Equatoria State, reported that the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) encroached into Kajo-Keji County at the border with Uganda’s Yumbe district following a dispute.

Uganda’s defense minister, Huda, who joined the cross-border meeting in Yumbe district over the weekend, told the delegates that President Kiir directed her to pass the resolution of their meeting to President Museveni.

According to her, the first resolution Kiir put forth was the revival of the joint border demarcation committee with immediate effect.

Hajjat Oleru said president Kiir asked for immediate revival of the joint committee in order to resolve the border dispute once and for all.

“He also asked for reactivation of the joint technical committee on the border demarcation, both countries will fund immediately, such that work will start immediately.” She added.

She further said Kiir also suggested enhancing joint border security coordination between South Sudan and Uganda to calm cross-border community conflicts.

South Sudan head of state also directed that reference point for the demarcations be the colonial boundaries and the maps.

“Kiir said Sudan got its independence before Uganda; therefore, we have a border between Sudan and Uganda. It’s not Uganda and South Sudan, so that is the border we are going to use, aware that South Sudan was sometime back part of Sudan,” Minister Huda explained.

Central Equatoria governor, Emmanuel Adil Anthony, who led South Sudan delegation to Yumbe, said the border between South Sudan and Uganda is an international one.

He said the border issue, therefore, does not in any way fall within the mandate of the local or state governments.

“As authorities entrusted by law and having territorial jurisdiction along the international borders, as local and state governments, we have the mandate to provide security, law, and order to our citizens,” Adil said.

He explained that any national border status violation is the mandate of the two national governments to solve, and no one else should rule over such jurisdiction.

The South Sudan’s delegates and Uganda’s delegates to the Friday cross-border meeting in Yumbe deliberated on issues of mutual concern to either side.

The meeting prioritized to review the general progress attained in the implementation of the previous sanctioned resolutions adopted through the joint cross-border meeting.

Local authorities in Kajo-Keji County, Central Equatoria State, reported in September 2023 that Ugandan troops had entered South Sudanese territory and had allegedly set up a military camp there.

The one-day meeting to deliberate on cross-border security between the two countries is happening for the second time in Yumbe district of Uganda’s West Nile.

However, there have been a series of cross-border security meetings mostly held between authorities of South Sudan Central Equatoria State and the authorities of Uganda West Nile neighboring districts of Moyo, Yumbe, Adjumani, and Koboko.

In 2009, President Museveni and Salva Kiir Mayardit met in Moyo district and agreed that farmers from both countries could utilize the vast virgin farmland along the border without any party claiming ownership of the land until the boundary between the two countries is redefined, which hasn’t been done.

In 2016, a joint border committee was formed to resolve border disputes between South Sudan and Uganda, starting especially in Eastern Equatoria State border areas with Uganda Lawmo district.

The committee had already started consultative meetings with cross-border communities.

The consultations were supposedly to be followed by a process of border demarcation spearheaded by a team of surveyors in the presence of an 18-member committee with representatives from both Uganda and South Sudan.

But since then, the work has come to a halt, and the committee has been rendered dormant as South Sudan battles with its political instability as a result of the December 2013 and July 2016 conflicts that the country is still recovering from.

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