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South Sudanese soldiers halt road survey in Uganda

May 1, 2018 (LAMWO) – Heavily armed South Sudanese army (SPLA) soldiers have halted a road construction taking place in Uganda’s northern district of Lamwo, officials said.

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Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers singing pro-war song (AFP file photo)

Engineers from a company contracted to undertake the survey of the 21 kilometers road from Agoro sub-county to Apiriti market at South Sudan border were confronted by SPLA soldiers who accused them of trespassing into their territory.

Agoro sub-county chairperson, Denis Onyon, told Daily Monitor that over 60 armed SPLA soldiers forced surveyors to stop their activities.

South Sudanese officials, Onyon said, also claimed the surveyors from Uganda encroached their territory during the survey exercise.

“The soldiers were very many and armed, they violently confronted our Ugandan team with accusation that they have crossed to their territory. We want government intervention in this matter as soon as possible,” he remarked.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Jonathan Rutabingwa said they have informed government officials in Kampala and also contacted the Governor of Torit State, Alberio Tobiolo to discuss ways of reaching consensus without stopping road works.

“We have accepted their demands to halt the road survey in good faith so that no clashes erupt. We want to have cordial talks with the South Sudanese counterparts to come to a common ground, the road once complete will benefit not only Ugandans but also South Sudanese,” he told Daily Monitor.

Rutabingwa was, however, quoted saying the disputed area belongs to Uganda.

The Lamwo District Chairperson, John Ogwok said the dispute over the territory would delay the road project, which would benefit both the South Sudanese and Ugandans in boosting cross border trade.

South Sudanese authorities were not immediately available to comment on the matter.

In August 2015, over 200 armed militias from South Sudan entered nine kilometers into Uganda’s territory at Lokung sub-county in Lamwo, before they were pushed back by Ugandan soldiers.

(ST)