Home | News    Saturday 31 March 2007

Uganda to probe alleged harassment of its nationals in Sudan

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March 30, 2007 (KAMPALA) — President, Yoweri Museveni, has showed concern over reports speaking about intimidation and harassment of Ugandan nationals who are living and working in southern Sudan. He ordered a committee to probe these complaints, the Daily Monitor reported.

This followed persistent reports that elements within the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) were harassing and intimidating Ugandans living or working in South Sudan. The reports say there is extortion of money and arresting of Ugandans without charging them.
A member of the committee tasked to conduct the investigations, Walter Ochora, confirmed the President’s directive in an interview with Daily Monitor.

“There were complaints from traders that they are being harassed, that’s what the President wants to establish,” Col. Ochora, who is Gulu RDC said. He said a report is being compiled to be forwarded to the President soon.

A State House official said the President in his past meetings with his South Sudan counterpart, Gen. Salva Kiir had raised the issue of reports of harassment of Ugandans in South Sudan.

Press Secretary to the President Tamale Mirundi could not be reached for a comment yesterday as his telephone was off.
Ugandan traders and professionals working in South Sudan have been narrating tales of constant harassment, and mistreatment by militant natives and soldiers.

In December, SPLA commanders banned all Eagle Air flights into Yei, South Sudan, alleging the Uganda-registered private airline violated Sudanese aviation rules. But the trouble with the Airline was that the crew refused to fly a relative of one of the military commanders who had complications arising out of abortion.

The Airline was allowed to fly back into Yei, on the invention of Uganda’s Consular General based in Juba Busho Ndinyenka. The South Sudan transport ministry apologised for the incident.

The official car of the ambassador, a Toyota Land cruiser was recently smashed by an SPLA truck in Juba, but the occupants threatened to shoot the embassy staff when they followed them to the nearby barracks where the offending soldiers were stationed.

There have also been cases where Ugandans are locked up in jails, especially on weekends and released without charge after paying bribes. Ugandan registered vehicles are occasionally stopped and occupants harassed or forced to pay a ransom.

But the concern among Ugandans is that Sudanese have lived happily in Uganda where they took sanctuary as a result of a-three decade war in their country. Many Ugandans have flocked Sudan to trade in food stuff, engage in the booming construction industry and transport where they are paid twice the value of what they get in Uganda.

Meanwhile, the SPLA has redeployed troops in anticipation of attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.

Similarly, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces is monitoring the border areas to prevent any entry or threat from the LRA, according to the army spokesman Maj. Felix Kulaiyigye.

(The Monitor)

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