Tensions along the South Sudan-Uganda border are strained due to land disputes between border communities.
The Commissioner of KajoKeji County in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state is accusing Ugandan authorities of encouraging farmers to encroach on South Sudanese land.
Commissioner Muki Batali said for months farmers from Moyo district in northern Uganda have been grabbing land in KajoKeji County, claiming it belongs to Uganda.
Batali said, ‘’What we have seen is that wherever they have pushed, then [their] government follows them and they appoint [a] local counselor. They also [build] roads and attempt to [build] schools. We are saying, no, if you are looking for cultivation land, we will not refuse to give you land, but you have to accept our administration.”
He warned that if the situation is not addressed the land dispute could lead to a wider conflict between South Sudan and Uganda. He said, ‘’If we were to respond to their provocations, it could have resulted in conflict. But we are trying to keep [the] law. It is they [the Ugandans] who are always provoking us.”
Batali accuses Ugandan farmers of stealing a tractor last year during the planting season. A local committee reported the case to Juba to take up with authorities in Kampala.
Batali made his comments while visiting Washington, DC at the invitation of the KajoKeji Women’s Association, which is based in the United States.