Lobong, Kenyan Governor sign MoU on cross border security

Lobong, Kenyan Governor sign MoU on cross border security
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok (left) Kenyan Minister of Petroleum and Mining John Munyes (in red), Louis Lobong, Governor of Eastern Equatoria State and Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua in a group photo after the signing of the MoU. (photo credit: Eastern Equatoria Gubernatorial Press Unit)

South Sudan and its neighbour Kenya have signed a peace memorandum of understanding to boost the security surveillance during the road construction between the two countries. 

The government officials drawn from the two countries acknowledged that the conflict has interrupted the development of the road construction linking the Eastern Equatoria State to Kenya through the Turkana region.

The insecurity in the region has been aggravated by a decade of conflict between two neighboring communities in Kenyan and South Sudan along the border. The two communities are the cattle keepers with a similar clamour for pasture and water for their livestock. 

Speaking during the ceremony of the signing agreement on Monday, Turkana County Commissioner Muthama Wambua said that they would be taking a team of 50 people from each country to go and see how other communities living in the border exist peacefully. 

“[Living in the border] does not mean that if you are South Sudanese or Kenyan then [you live] differently but you continue to enjoy your life in that particular country. In the agreement, [we have concerns] raised by over 300 transporters over insecurity and poor state of the road,” said Wambua.

Governor of Eastern Equatoria State, Louis Lobong Lojore said they have signed the agreement to improve the security along the border. 

“We came here to inform the authorities and communities along the border here that road construction is going to take place and we need the support to provide security for the constructors,” said Lobong. 

The security officials from both countries also traveled to Nadapal to share the resolution with the communities living along the borders.

The two government officials also agreed that both countries will provide security to the constructors to ensure the road is completed by February 2022 and priority given to those from Toposa and Turkana for employment.   

Face of clashes

In August, clashes erupted between the Toposa Community of Kapoeta East County in Eastern Equatoria State and the Turkana ethnic group of Kenya leading to constant fear along the border.

The tensions are attributed to an inter-communal fight that broke out in the same week between the two communities that left two people dead.

The fighting erupted at Mogila Mountain where the Toposa herders normally graze their cattle close to Turkana cattle camp.

According to the Commissioner of Kapoeta East County, Abdalla Loken, two people were killed in the Toposa’s side while another was injured.

He said although the fighting had stopped, the tension between the two communities was still very high.

Abdalla appealed to the two communities to come together and maintain stability at the border.

Cypriano Lobui Lomong, Ndapal Payam Administrator, confirmed the fighting but said no cattle had been raided from each community.

He said the numbers of casualties were not known as people still to reach out to the area.

The two bordering communities have been involved in a prolonged conflict caused by cattle raid and border dispute over water sources near Mogila Jebel that falls along the border between South Sudan and Kenya.

Past clashes

In 2009, the Kenyan government raised security concerns over the borders particularly along Nadapal-Lokichoggio road as well as at Mogilia Jebel and Losolia Hills.

This culminated in a joint ministerial meeting held on August 13, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya to help the two countries quell intermittent clashes.

In the same week in August 2021, the Youth of Toposa petitioned President Salva Kiir over what they lamented as ‘‘encroachment, annexation, and occupation of Kapoeta territory’’, particularly the former Kapoeta East County—now called Losolia and Kauto by the government of Kenya.

In the petition seen by the City Review, the youth recommended that a temporary border post at Nadapal be established by the Kenyan authority as per the resolution made in 2009. They added the Kenyan authorities had violated resolution number two of the August 2009 meeting.

They also requested the case to be referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, if the Kenyan government fails to adhere to the 2009 resolution.