Relative calm in Magwi after UPDF exit

Relative calm in Magwi after UPDF exit
Soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (File Photo)

Residents of Pajok Payam in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, have expressed fears that insecurity could hamper farming and businesses that drive the local economy.

They are still grappling with the aftermath of the recent deadly clash between South Sudan People’s Defence Forces – SSPDF and foreign forces, the Uganda People Defence Forces – UPDF.

According to local authorities, there have been minimal measures of calm since Ugandan forces retreated across the border.

It will however take locals some time to come to terms with the metal anguish that the clash that left one SSPDF solder dead, left in their memories. They recent encroachment by the UPDF was not the first of its kind.

Speaking to The City Review on Thursday morning, the Executive Director of Pajok Payam, Okeny John, said a lot is needed to fix insecurity.

According to Okeny, the presence of the Ugandan military scares Magwi residents from trekking far and interfering with their activities.

“This border issue in Pajok is big and if the demarcation is not resolved, it will still be a problem,’’ Okeny cautioned.

He claimed that the Ugandan forces had taken up land in Otilo and Logwedadi, and were engaged in logging as well as planning to set up a sugar plantation.

He called for a diplomatic solution to solve the border problem eating into the bordering communities.

“These things need dialogue so that we can stop these Ugandans from encroaching into our land because they could be up to mining resources in our land,” he lamented.

Okeny argued that it is the responsibility of the national and state governments to intervene and solve the situation. He said repeated calls from the community had fallen on deaf ears.

“These resources which belong to South Sudan as the sovereign country they have to intervene and find a way of resolving this problem. The question our community is raising is why is it that our governments are not intervening in such a situation? he posed.

Magwi County Commissioner, Otto David Remson, said insecurity was not only in Pogee Payam but also in the three bordering areas: Lobone, Pajok and Nimule.

Ojok added the state government was working to ensure the situation returns to normalcy.

“[What is happening at the border is not an easy thing as it leaves many people in fear from both sides. I am working hard with the government [to ensure] the situation returns to the normal place,” Ojok said.

The minister of local government and law enforcement, Peter Lokeng Lotone, called on the residents to be calm as they engage the national government to solve and ease the tension.