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S. Sudan, Uganda recommit to tackling highways banditry

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Kahinda Otafiire, Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs (left) and Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Presidential Affairs address the media after a meeting with President Salva Kiir in Juba. | 15th August 2022. | Photo: Office of the President. SSD.

South Sudan and Uganda have reiterated commitment to work jointly to combat banditry along the highways connecting the two countries.

The purported arrangement is an effort to put an end to the persistent road ambushes, targeting travelers and truck drivers transporting goods to South Sudan.

The two neighbors made the pledge, a week after their military officials agreed to form structures and share intelligence on elements of opposition groups, allegedly hiding in their respective countries.

On Tuesday, the Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, met with President Salva Kiir and discussed efforts to combat cross-border criminal activities between the two countries.

“There are a few challenges facing our two countries. There are bad people who do wrong in South Sudan and run to Uganda. There are bad characters who do wrongly in Uganda and come to South Sudan.”

“I had the occasion to discuss with my colleagues, the ministers and His Excellency to see how to iron positive result,” Otafiire said speaking to the State-owned television SSBC.

Kahinda Otafiire stated that, the attacks against civilians are being committed by individuals whom he said, are seeking political dividends by means of violence.

He assured his country’s commitment to deal with the threats.

“We cannot stand by when people are being killed on road by people who supposedly are fighting for political dividends, the dividends can be achieved by peaceful means rather than waging war against innocent people.”

Last week, the national army said unidentified armed men ambushed a convoy of five passenger vehicles along the Juba-Nimule highway, killing three civilians and wounding dozens.

But, witnesses said seven people died and more than 20 went missing during the deadly attack, in the morning hours at Ame Junction.

Police Spokesperson Major General Daniel Justin, said security forces have been deployed along the restive road, following the attack.

For his part, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the meeting was to bolster good relations between the two countries.

“It was an important meeting and he also carried the message of His Excellency President Museveni to pass to his brother His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit.”

Last year, Ugandan media outlets reported that the two governments reached an agreement to deploy joint security forces of the SSPDF and UPDF to secure travelers and truck drivers.

This was at a time of heightened insecurities and highway ambushes, in which dozens of truck drivers were targeted.

But, Juba denied the alleged reports of agreement to deploy joint security forces to protect travelers and truck drivers along the main roads.

South Sudan said there were no plans to deploy UPDF on its territory, to tackle security issues.

Meanwhile, top army officials from the two countries met at a closed door meeting last weekend, and signed pact to fight insurgencies by armed groups in their respective borders.

The UPDF Chief of Defence Forces,Gen Wilson Mbadi, met in Gulu with Lt Gen James Koang Chuol, the SSPDF Deputy Chief of Defence Forces in charge of training and research, and agreed to share information and subvert insecurities.

Daily Monitor, one of Uganda’s leading newspapers, understands that the SSPDF made a claim that some Ugandans cross to South Sudan under the guise of doing business only to join the National Salvation Army.

When they encounter resistance, then they flee and hide in Uganda disguising as refugees, the newspaper cited SSPDF official as saying.

Later at a press conference, Ugandan military chief, Gen Mbadi said the agreement comes following the spill over of the UNPLAF and the NAS activities into Uganda and South Sudan.

 “We have agreed to work together to make sure whatever insecurity affecting the two counties is dealt with through sharing of information,” said Gen. Mbadi.

For his part, Lt. General Koang Chuol said they will work with the UPDF to ensure that rebels disturbing peace at the border are defeated.

“I am happy to discuss these issues with Uganda and if we are willing to solve the problems of our borders, we shall end these conflicts,”  he said.




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