Kajo Keji County accuses UPDF of encroachment

Kajo Keji County accuses UPDF of encroachment
Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). [Photo: New Vision]

The authorities in Kajo Keji County have accused the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) of encroaching South Sudan territory.

The Commissioner of Kajo Keji County, Phanuel Dumo, described the UPDF encroachment as a provocation to the country’s territorial integrity.

“This is not at our level it goes to state and national,” he said.

“The area they are now in is our soil so this is a contradiction done by authority there. We cannot take our forces to go and provoke the neighbour, (as they did) definitely and the landlord are there,” he said.

This came up in the wake of the proposed meeting between the Kajo Keji County and the Yumbe district of Uganda which was to be held on September 22 to iron out the border issues.

Last year in June, various specialists cautioned that UPDF’s continual encroachments into the country are a “direct threat and attack” on the country’s territorial integrity.

This was prompted by the reports indicating that foreign soldiers set up a military base at Chugi area of Owiny-ki-Bul payam, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State. This is 4 – 5 kilometres away from the border.

One of the political analysts, Dr. Abraham Kuol Nyuon, told one of the local media that it is an interference with the territorial integrity of the state.

“In the modern world, it is one of the worst-case scenarios where any state security should have to be vigilant,” he said.

He said the country’s executive leadership should quickly communicate with their Ugandan counterparts to settle the problem of the encroachment.

“The President is supposed to mostly establish contacts with the President of Uganda, by sending his delegation comprising of experts that deal with the issues of politics as well as geographical location. It should also be witnessed by the observatory team from other countries,” he advised.

His sentiments were echoed by Martin Wang, an independent foreign affairs and security analyst, who also serves as a researcher on foreign policies, governance, peace and conflict in Juba, stated that continued encroachment in the states is a violation of the provisions of the UN Charter under Article 2 (4) on territorial integrity.

“It is absurd for foreign military forces to have a huge presence in the territory of another state with/without the knowledge of the government of that state, and withdraw at will,” he explained.

Article 2.4 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates that, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

However, South Sudan’s government through either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the military wing did not issue any statement in the event of the newest border intrusion.

Wang said any serious government would activate its diplomatic and military capabilities in the face of such direct military provocations than being mute.

“The responsibility to protect civilians lies with the government, and of course, by extension, the international community. But, when foreign forces roam freely, causing disturbances, tensions and threats to civilians within other communities, then the government has essentially failed in its R2P (responsibility to protect) role,” he explained.