S. Sudan downplays reports on visa waiver with Uganda

S. Sudan downplays reports on visa waiver with Uganda
Director General of South Sudan Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports and Immigration, Gen. Atem Marol Biar (photo credit: Alex Bullen/City Review)

South Sudan’s immigration department has downplayed the visa waiver reports with Uganda saying they are yet to get formal communication from Kampala about the development.

On Thursday, Ugandan media reported that the Kampala administration had removed visa requirements for South Sudanese nationals effective October 1, 2021, on reciprocity that South Sudan would do the same for Ugandans.

“That means South Sudanese traveling to Uganda will be free to enter Uganda as long as they carry a valid passport and meet other health conditions for travelers,” Ugandan First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs Rebecca Kadaga reportedly said.

When contacted, the Director-General of South Sudan Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports and Immigration Gen. Atem Marol Biar said they have not received any official communication from the high authorities.

“Yes, I am aware and saw the news that was published by some media outlets, but that is a communication from their (Uganda’s) side, per now I can say let us not rush, if any decision will be reached [on visa waiver], it will be communicated to [the] public,” he said.

He said the right communication would have come from the office of the President to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, then to the Ministry of Interior, and finally to the immigration department.

“We follow the procedures, just like what happened between South Sudan and Kenya. What normally happens is that in such issues, we as immigration department are supposed to get official communication from the top leaders,’’ he said.

The Immigration Chief added, “it is only the office of the president that can give directives, so like me I cannot talk about it now but I am hopeful that there is communication going on.”

 “It is too early for me to talk about it, I will only talk when that time comes,” Gen. Marol concluded.

Efforts to reach both Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Interior were not successful. 

Recently, South Sudan joined the East African community which includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.

In August, South Sudan and Kenya removed visa requirements for nationals from the two countries.