E. Equatoria MPs back protestors over border encroachment by Kenya
A section of lawmakers in the Eastern Equatoria State parliament has backed Kapoeta East County citizens who on Wednesday protested what they called an encroachment by Kenyan authorities into South Sudanese territory.
The parliamentarians said the silence of the national government over the matter implies that the land has been ceded and or sold to Kenya.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Kapoeta East County residents peacefully demonstrated after Kenya deployed troops on South Sudanese territory on Monday claiming that the border between the two countries is in the Nakodok area in Kapoeta East County.
On Thursday, several parliamentarians protested around the parliamentary building in Torit town and urged the national government to immediately intervene, and called upon the Kenyan authorities to be good neighbors.
Visor Likale Olum who represents Lafon County in the state parliament said he is worried about recent efforts by the Kenyans to enter deep into South Sudanese territory.
“The encroachment into Kapoeta East is going to affect us in the state and you know we neighbor several countries and tomorrow the issue might be in the Magwi area or another place,” he said. “As leaders, we have to show solidarity with our people and I am here to tell the Government of Kenya that they should behave as good neighbors as they did during the time of our liberation struggle. Unfortunately, the Kenyan government wants to take advantage of the internal problems of South Sudan.”
"At the state level, our hands are tied because the issue of borders is the mandate of the national government, and their silence on this matter is weakening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of South Sudan,” he added.
Another state parliamentarian, Semira Lobong, condemned the border encroachment by Kenyan authorities and said the original border is Lodwar in Kenya.
“I want to ask President Salva Kiir Mayardit why all this is happening and urge him to ask the Kenyan president why they are entering South Sudanese land,” she said. “The President of Kenya was only recently elected so why is he starting with violence? Let President Kiir ask him. As civilians of Eastern Equatoria State, we condemn this act and Kenya should revert to the original border which was in Lodwar as of 1955.”
Meanwhile, Hellen Orazio, a lawmaker representing Kapoeta South, called on the national government to expedite the resolution of border issues to avoid escalations.
“The Government of Kenya has brought its citizens to occupy areas up to Nakodok (Kapota East County) and I am calling on the national government to speed up resolving this issue because such things should not lead to conflicts between communities,” she said. “We need peace with Kenya. The problem is that the innocent Kenyans are being incited by their politicians.”
On his part, James Natabo, who represents Kapoeta East County, says the South Sudanese who live along the border with Kenya have been patiently waiting for the resolution of a committee that was formed to handle the border issue.
“If the national government was responsible for its citizens, they could have even come on the ground and informed us as the leaders of the particular counties and the communities along the borders about what is being done,” he said. “We are still waiting because there is a committee that was formed to handle the issue but it has been silent. We lost our children during the liberation of this country, should we now sell the land? If you are selling the land, then you should sell it with the people who live on it.”