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Uganda - Sudan border dispute: who is behind the Lefori attack?

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th September 2009 03:00 AM

On September 2, Ugandans on the Uganda-Sudan border in Moyo awoke to a rude shock when armed men from Sudan attacked farmers in Gwere parish in Lefori sub-county and uprooted their crops.

On September 2, Ugandans on the Uganda-Sudan border in Moyo awoke to a rude shock when armed men from Sudan attacked farmers in Gwere parish in Lefori sub-county and uprooted their crops.

By Dradenya Amazia
On September 2, Ugandans on the Uganda-Sudan border in Moyo awoke to a rude shock when armed men from Sudan attacked farmers in Gwere parish in Lefori sub-county and uprooted their crops.

The elements allegedly ordered the residents to vacate the land which they said was part of Sudan.

The incident came two weeks after men in uniform rounded up and flogged 20 Ugandans erecting an MTN mast on the border them.

The conflict comes after more than two decades of peaceful co-existence between the two countries.

When the 1979-1980 liberation war between SPLA and the Sudanese government started, many Ugandans from West Nile, who had been living as refugees in Sudan, returned to Uganda with Sudanese fleeing the war.

The Ugandans and Sudanese co-existed peacefully after the SPLA and the government of Sudan signed a peace agreement. Many hoped for a better life.

The agreement also paved way for the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugee (UNHCR) to facilitate the Sudanese refugee delegation to investigate the state of affairs and inform those in exile in Uganda.

After assessing the situation, the UNHCR led the first batch of voluntary repatriation from Moyo district in May 2006.

The relationship between the two countries remained warm, with no border checkpoints. However, in early 2007, the situation between the two neighbours changed when construction of the 11km road from Afoji border-point in Moyo sub-county to Lefori started. This project, funded by the African Development Bank and the Government of Uganda, compelled the authorities in Kajo-Keji County to deploy, halting its completion.

“The project stopped because of the claims that the stretch to Moyo army detach (about 6km inside Uganda) belonged to Sudan,” says Dr. Dominic Lali, the district project coordinator.

“Border checkpoints were erected on the Ugandan side and an entry fee to Sudan was demanded,” Everisto Odendi, the LCI of Afoji East, says.

Richard Andu, the district councillor for Lefori, where the recent attack on Ugandan farmers sparked a massive demonstration, blamed the Ugandan authorities for their laxity. “It seems people have lost trust in their leaders because since 2007, no action has been taken despite the numerous attacks,” he said.

He adds that this laxity makes Sudanese feel that the land belongs to them.

After fail­­­­­ing to get convincing answers from the LC5 chairman, Peter Iku Dolo, the residents closed Afoji-Jalle border and took to the streets They locked up the shops which are 80% owned by Sudanese in Moyo town.

The protestors also accused the Sudan Wild Life Authority officials of settling 5km into Dufile Animal Sanctuary in Lebubu parish, near the border with Mangwi County.

“The beacon of Uganda’s border at our side is about 5km where the Sudanese game rangers have settled,” Romano Ojha, the LCI of Panjala village, says.

The resident district commissioner, John Abingwa has called for calm, assuring residents of peace.

However, a September 3 press release signed by Maj. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol, the SPLA spokesman in Juba, Southern Sudan says the attackers are not members and have nothing to do with SPLA.

Kuol says these are armed criminals insitigated by anti-peace elements to damage the exisiting friendly relations between the people and government of Southern Sudan and the people and Government of Uganda.

Ernest Onge, the principal liaison officer for the Government of South Sudan in Kampala urged the people to be calm, saying the excellent bilateral relations between Sudan and Uganda must be sustained.

Early this year, The New Vision reported that about 1,500 boundary pillars on Uganda’s international borders had been uprooted.

Such incidents are partly responsible for the increased number of border conflicts.

Some pillars are said to have been removed by Idi Amin’s soldiers protecting themselves against Tanzanian soldiers during the 1979 war.

Uganda is entangled in several other border disputes which have been difficult to resolve due to the absence of the demarcation pillars.

For instance, Uganda and Congo disagree over the Mahagi area in Nebbi district, the Vurra border area in Arua district and Rukwanzi Island on Lake Albert.

There was also the Migingo Island saga on lake Victoria that caused tension between Uganda and Kenya.

Uganda - Sudan border dispute: who is behind the Lefori attack?

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