The reported intervention by UPDF to stop clashes in the West Nile border town of Moyo is well-timed. This will stop cross-border residents taking the law into own hands, end more protests, violence and looting of household property. It will also allow the 108 families displaced to be resettled and their children resume schooling.
For now, this move, and recommendations by a team of South Sudan MPs and Ugandan leaders, who met in Arua District on Tuesday, should ease the tension. The South Sudanese police officers should respect the resolutions to withdraw from the disputed area. And the local leaders should restrain the cross-border communities from violent acts.
As commissioner for Kajo-Keji County Henry Sabuni said, the government of South Sudan should also protect Ugandans in Kajo-Keji County. Indeed, the proposed visit to the disputed land by Uganda’s Third Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali and Central Equatoria State Governor Maj Gen Clement Wani should be fulfilled to consolidate these peace moves.
But this step by the leaders, and the UPDF Contingent Commander in South Sudan, Brig Kayanja Muhanga, serves only a temporal role to calm the tensions. These short-term measures will neither stop the long-standing border dispute, nor rule out future insecurity and accompanying violence in Moyo District and other parts of northern Uganda. In the past, South Sudan authorities have been accused of similar arrests and mistreatment of Moyo residents.
For a durable solution, it is thus crucial that the Joint Border Committee should be facilitated, and pushed to quickly but fairly demarcate and mark the disputed land to produce a lasting solution.
But the never-ending excuses over atrocities by South Sudan against Ugandans should stop. The two countries need each other and Uganda cannot always be expected to be the one to make compromises. Only in June, the government of South Sudan apologised over claims of harassment, torture and death of Ugandan traders in Juba.
Over all, government should heed the cries of Moyo leaders and Woman MP Anne Auru. Resolving this border dispute and creating cordial relations between South Sudan and Uganda are important. Cooperation between Uganda and South Sudan has helped to end the Joseph Kony 20-year LRA war. Peace is crucial for trade and movement of people between the two countries. Besides, Moyo and other districts in northern Uganda have always hosted South Sudanese refugees for the entire period the South Sudan war of independence against Khartoum lasted.
Marking Uganda-Sudan border should, therefore, improve cooperation and stop clashes.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor