South Sudan, Uganda to settle on new strategy for chronic border tension

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ramadan Goc, suggested that South Sudan and Uganda need to consider reactivation of the mechanisms that were put in place by a joint commission on borders in 2016 to deal with emerging disputes.

Goc’s sentiment came in the wake of a high-profile meeting between President Salva Kiir and a delegation that had been sent by his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, whose focus was to ensure the two countries fast-track the demarcation and resolution of the border disputes.

According to a statement seen by The City Review on Thursday, Goc said the recent border tension, particularly in parts of Kajo Keji County, had elicited serious concerns in both countries.

“The topic that was raised by our brothers from Uganda is the issue of border, and from our side as South Sudan, we do believe that the issue of border used to come from time to time, and this is a concern from our side,” Goc said.

“The only solution to solve the border issue is the reactivation of the mechanisms that were put in place before, it was a joint commission of the border and there were other technical committees that were there before,” he added.

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Uganda’s State Minister for Defence, Jajjat Elero, said the resolution of the border issues would help restore peaceful co-existence among the communities living along the border, adding that such should not roil the cordial relationship between Uganda and South Sudan.

“We have been sent today to meet the president of the Republic of South Sudan with a specific message, and this a message of our borders, the international borders that were created by our colonial masters and how we should not misuse these borders to stop our positive living, our harmonious living and our living together as two member states countries of East Africa,” Hajjat said.

She said the borders are feigned but some individuals will need to misuse it for their own ambitions.

“These borders are very artificial but sometimes, some few elements would want to misuse it for their selfish interests, but our two heads of state have given us a clear message,” she said.

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The government of South Sudan and Uganda had formed a joint committee to resolve the border dispute near Kajo-Keji County. The committee was made up of 14 members formed after Kajo-Keji County protested the alleged occupation of some parts of the land by residents of Moyo District from Uganda in mid-May, 2023.

The committee was tasked with acquiring the necessary equipment for demarcation including colonial maps.

On October 25, South Sudan agreed to expedite the process of border demarcation to mitigate conflict, promote peaceful coexistence and trade among the border communities.

The meeting comes after the residents of Kajo Keji raised alarm over illegal encroachment of the border by the Ugandan Defence Forces (UPDF), who they accused of harassing and arresting South Sudanese on the border areas.

Local authorities also noted that the foreign troops seemed to have settled in three locations and were not sure whether they will leave sooner.

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The issue for the National Legislative Assembly to summon ministers in charge of interior, defence, national security and foreign affairs to explain their plan to deal with the challenges. However, it was only the minister of interior, Angelina Teny, who showed up in Parliament.

Early this month, President Kiir promised to resolve the border disputes between South Sudan and Uganda after receiving reports on the issue.

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