By Otto Abut
Local authorities of Eastern Equatoria State comprising of Magwi, Budi, Ikwoto counties and their counterparts from Northern Uganda’s, Lamwo and Kitgum District have signed Memorandum of Understanding to ease border passage and promote peaceful coexistence between the five neighboring territories of Uganda and South Sudan.
Commissioners Otto David Remson of Magwi County, Caesar Ingong of Budi and Akileo Mboya of Ikwoto County are the signatories on behalf of Eastern Equatoria state, while Odong Godfrey Osbon and Ssegawa jimmy Ebill signed on behalf of Lamwo and Kitgum Districts on Tuesday 21st February, respectively.
The MoU aimed at ensuring safety and peaceful coexistence, prevent conflict, and promote economic development for cross border management among the people of Northern Uganda and Eastern Equatoria State particularly in the neighboring areas of Lamwo Kitgum, Magwi, Ikwoto and Budi.
According to the MoU Document dated 21st February 2023 seen by media, the signatories agreed to collaborate and end harassment of Refugees and traders, end unnecessary boarder entry charges especially traders and to sensitize Locals on cross border movement policies.
The MoU also aim at creating a mechanism that will involve the Local people around, religious leaders and traditional leaders in regular dialogue among them to resolve the border tenson, Land disputes, cattle rustling, legal logging and exploitation of mineral resources atrocities and among others.
Magwi County Commissioner, Otto David Remson calls on the Ugandan counterparts to deliberately maintain the regional corporation made, in order to rejuvenate the peaceful cohesion among the citizens at the borderline of South Sudan and Uganda.
“My brothers from Uganda, we have already tied up ourselves together at the grass level, we shouldn’t give a gap, the more we have a simple gap, the difficult situation will also come to our citizens.” Says Otto
The commissioner reiterates that, the international border issues will be handled by the South Sudan and Uganda Government.
“All our border issues, all the conflict that we have, it will one day be solve and I know the issue of international border between South Sudan and Uganda can be handled one day by our national government.”
The Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Oceng Godfrey Osborn commended the partners involved including government of South Sudan for the efforts made in organizing the meeting as platform to address international border wrangles between Uganda and South Sudan Particularly Eastern Equatoria and Northern Uganda
The RDC said, Uganda is committed to the signed treaties that will boost the international relation, economic development and safe passage of traders and Refugees along the border line of South Sudan and Uganda.
“We want to promote this oneness and we also want to see the borders remain imaginary and our people lives in harmony.”
“We are here pledging our commitment to what we are going to sign tonight and we have agreed that, quarterly we will be reviewing our action where amendment will be done.” Osborn Said.
LWF area coordinator Magwi field office, George Wesonga tasked the commissioners and representatives from the two countries to vividly to work hand in as signed in the MoU and to spread the message to citizens at the grassroot.
This is a great milestone in the process of cross boarder management, and it’s just the beginning of the process the rest now remains in the hands of those gentlemen (Commissioners), it should go beyond just signing and the discussion has to go a little bit further to grass root level.”
“As implementing partners, we want to commit ourselves that this MoU we will continue to facilitate you to ensure that this MoU is given life so that the affected population, the refugees. The IDPs and the host communities that we do support get to feel that the discussion that went into this document.”
The authorities are mindful to a goal to strengthen the security between the two countries and easing the mobility of resources, goods and services and to eliminate restrictions along the border points.
Over the past years, due to civil wars, the two countries have interchangeably hosted refugees from either sides with relative peace in the region and had border tensons and cattle related issues in areas of Madi Opei, Palabek, Nyimur or Limu, Agoro, Owinykibul, Pogee, Lobone and Tseretenya among others.