Army chiefs from Uganda and South Sudan have said they are looking forward to reaching an agreement following recent border clashes.
Last month, the Ugandan army killed two South Sudanese soldiers and captured another after allegedly attacking their defensive border post at Pogee in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State.
But the UPDF, instead said it was the SSPDF soldiers who erected a checkpoint inside the Ugandan territory at Lokung Sub-county in Lamwo District.
After diplomatic engagements, the captured SSPDF soldier was later handed back to the South Sudanese authorities.
“Of recent we have been getting very sad accounts of the deaths of SSPDF soldiers at the border areas. On a very serious note, these are areas we as two armies can come together to avoid such occurrences,” said Gen. Johnson Juma Okot, the Chief of Defense Forces of the SSPDF.
He led South Sudan’s delegation to the talks with their counterparts in Uganda on Saturday. The UPDF delegation was led by the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi.
During the meeting in Gulu, both army chiefs reiterated their countries’ commitment to fostering peace, security and stability in the region.
Gen. Johnson Juma Okot, who chaired the meeting, said the two countries were looking forward to having a memorandum of understanding to help them cooperate at the border areas.
“We are looking at our relationship in terms of a memorandum of understanding. If we had one, then we will look into that. If we don’t have one, then we have to brainstorm and establish a working program so that we can get one memorandum of understanding,” Gen. Okot added.
For his part, Lt Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi pledged the UPDF’s cooperation to strengthen peace, security and stability at the border areas.
He commended the ongoing efforts to identify security gaps that endanger the lives of the people along the border areas.
“These minor incidents should not undermine our historical relationships of these communities which they should actually be used for cross-border opportunities,” said Gen. Mbadi.
“We are looking forward to agreed positions on the way forward towards enhancing our relations.”
Present at the meeting were the Commander Land Forces of the UPDF, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, SSPDF’s Chief of Military Intelligence, Lt Gen Rieny Tuony Manor, and other senior UPDF and SSPDF commanders.
Porous land border points have been issues of contention between Uganda and South Sudan.
In July, four SSPDF soldiers and one National Police Service officer were shot and killed by the UPDF around Fitina Mbaya, also called Buya, a contested part of Kajo-Keji County in Central Equatoria state.
Earlier in June, three suspected South Sudanese armed poachers were shot dead by the UPDF soldiers in Kidepo National Park in the Karamoja region.
In 2016, South Sudan and Uganda formed an 18-member Joint Border Committee to start the demarcation to resolve cross-border disputes.
Details of the committee and the venue of the talks are yet to be made public.
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