The Committee of Parliament on Foreign and East Africa Community Affairs after being blocked from accessing Aswa Bridge, Uganda-South Sudan border – Photo by Dominic Ochola
Members of the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign and East Africa Community Affairs were treated to a shock when South Sudan security personnel stopped them from touring the Elegu border.
Elegu, located in Amuru District is the main point of entry for goods and services into South Sudan. The leaders visited the border on Thursday as part of oversight and fact-finding mission, to assess the state of the cross border relations and management by the two countries.
The visit comes at the backdrop of reports of violence meted by gunmen on foreign cargo fleet that enter South Sudan through Elegu. The attacks have resulted in the death of 25 truck drivers, in recent months putting into jeopardy, the security and economic bi-lateral relations that affect the lives of several East African citizens at risk
But the legislator’s delegation, which was led by Kooki County MP Boaz Katsirabo and accompanied by district officials, police and military officers were blocked at the checkpoint, about 50 meters at the Aswa Bridge inside Uganda. No clear explanation was given for the act, which Lira West Division MP Vincent Shedrick Obong described as an embarrassment that undermined Uganda’s sovereignty.
Lugazi Municipality MP Stephen Sserubula allayed fears that if people’s representatives are treated with such resentment, it confirms the aggression of the conflict-prone South Sudan on foreigners in their country.
Equally affected by the harsh reception is Noah Wanzala Mutebi, the Nakasongola County MP who wondered why Uganda’s sovereignty is being put at stake by South Sudan military manning the border post.
Noeline Basemera Kisembo, the Chairperson of the East African Community Affairs Committee of Parliament applauded Uganda police backed by the military for exercising restraint at the border in the phase of such intolerable provocation.
Basemera noted that the committee will produce a detailed report as part of its recommendation about the border issues to be discussed on the floor of Parliament to pave the way for meeting the South Sudan authorities to further discuss diplomatic and bi-lateral relations.
The sectoral committee on Foreign Affairs of Parliament is mandated to oversee Uganda’s foreign relations sector specifically matters pertaining to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uganda’s bilateral relations and the East African Community reintegration.