Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Top Uganda and South Sudan military commanders on Friday convened a bilateral summit in Gulu City to plan approaches to end armed violence along the borderlines between both countries.
The meeting took place at the UPDF 4th Division Barracks in Gulu City West Division. The military chiefs shared sharing challenges at their defensive territorial boundaries, security threats and devised ways to work peacefully.
It follows rampant armed aggression that has led the loss of lives and other cross border crimes that have threatened peace and stability of communities that live along the boundaries.
The latest incidents happened last month involving Uganda People’s Defense Forces –UPDF soldiers and their counterparts of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces – SSPDF in deadly gun battles.
The military raid that left four South Sudanese soldiers dead happened at Pogee border post in Magwi County, in Eastern Equatorial State. One military personnel was captured during the attack and several guns were confiscated from the dead.
The raid later resulted in insecurity and soured the relations between the two sister forces, staining trade and free movement of people. A joint committee was set up to investigate the attack faulted the South Sudanese soldiers who encroached into Uganda soil through disputed Ngomoromo border to carry out subversive activities.
Gen. Johnson Juma Okot, the Chief of General Staff who led the South Sudanese military delegation says their visit was aimed at owning the mistake and to exploit better avenues to ensure continued security, peace and stability between the two countries.
Gen. Okot applauded the Uganda government for the commitment to host thousands of South Sudanese refugees who fled insecurity back home.
Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, the UDPF’s Deputy Chief of Defense Force who hosted the summit lauded SSDPF leadership for the commitment exhibited in pursuit of a hospitable environment for continued mutual existence between Uganda and Africa’s youngest nation.
Mbadi also reiterated Uganda’s unconditioned and continued support to offer mentorship and strategic guidance to her neighbours in fulfillment of regional integration.
While South Sudan remains one of the leading regional trading partners with Uganda, armed security personnel have often encroached into the country’s sovereign territory to cause insecurity. For instance, in 2017 dozens of then SPLA soldiers halted Acholibur-Musingo road construction claiming the area belonged to them.
In 2016, Uganda-South Sudan established an 18-member committee backed by the African Union – AU to undertake the demarcation of the international borderline but the committee’s work has never yielded.