Tension at border as South Sudan soldiers halt roadworks in Lamwo

There was tension at the weekend at Musingo border point in Madi-opei Sub-county, Lamwo district, after armed South Sudanese soldiers confronted Chinese construction company workers on the 86.4 kilometre Acholibur Musingo road.

More than 300 soldiers belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, (SPLA) on Saturday morning reportedly crossed into Uganda and demanded Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CICO) stop work on the road with immediate effect. It is alleged the commissioner for Ikotos county in Eastern Equatorial State, Mr Peter Lokeng, accused the road contractor and Uganda government of crossing into South Sudan by seven kilometers.

Uganda Police Force, UPDF together with the district leaders intervened to restore order. The Acholibur-Musingo road works is part of the Shs523b Olwiyo-Gulu road projects that was commissioned by President Museveni in February this year.

“The SPLA soldiers were many in numbers, their intention wasn’t security-friendly, but we appreciate that following diplomatic negotiations, everything ended peacefully without chaos,” Aswa Regional police spokesperson, Mr Jimmy Patrick Okema, told the press on Monday at Northern Uganda Media Club in Gulu town.
He added that security at the border point has been heightened to counter any intrusion of armed SPLA into Uganda.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Mr Jonathan Rutabingwa, however, said there was no cause for alarm since the matter has been resolved. He said they managed to convince the South Sudanese authorities on the likely benefits of the road for the two countries once completed.

However, speaker of Eastern Equatorial Legislative Parliament, Mr Alberion Tobiolo, said the SPLA soldiers rushed to the border point after concerned residents at Musingo reported heavy presence of UPDF soldiers.

“Our soldiers rushed to the scene where the surveyors had reached as they carried on with their roadworks, they were accompanied by many UPDF soldiers who scared the residents in the area. Otherwise, there is no tension and our men didn’t invade Ugandan border,” said Mr Tobiolo.

In August this year, more than 200 armed militias from Magwi county in South Sudan entered nine kilometers into Ugandan territory at Lokung Sub-county in Lamwo claiming it belongs to them.

They were later flushed out by the UPDF soldiers leaving one of the militias dead. About 400 cattle and 392 goats have been looted in Lamwo district since 2009, according to local officials.



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