Peace must return to South Sudan

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By Editorial

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  02:00

Over the past few days, Africa’s youngest nation— South Sudan –has been fraught with an attempted coup d’état that has, among others, affected Ugandan traders. The country’s insecurity has also plunged Ugandans in fear with others losing their lives in apparent targeted torture.

So far, business has come to a standstill at the Uganda-South Sudan border, where more than 1,000 traders are stuck with their merchandise at Elegu border post in Adjumani District. Flights to Juba were cancelled as the Juba Airport was also closed.

This follows reports that President Salva Kiir’s forces have subdued an “attempted coup” by supporters of his sacked deputy, Riek Machar in a battle for political supremacy amidst tribal undertones by the largest ethnic groups of the Dinka and Neur.

Oil-rich but impoverished South Sudan is a multi-cultural nation like many others that have found a way of understanding each other. For that reason, peace should prevail in South Sudan, a key trading partner of Uganda because its impact on the region is crucial. Should the violence continue, investors will be turned away, a move that is likely to affect both South Sudan and Ugandan business people operating there.

An East African cross-border bulletin shows that South Sudan’s informal imports from Uganda increased considerably between April and June 2013 amid continued tension along its border with Sudan. Uganda’s exports of red sorghum in this period increased 15-fold from the 2011/12 average, with 90 per cent of them destined to South Sudan.

First, the President should engage in constructive dialogue with the concerned parties to see to it that there is peace in the nation.

South Sudan should also establish strong bi-lateral ties with its neighbouring states in order to deal with its challenges well. Peace in South Sudan will also speed up regional economic growth, especially through the Lamu Port and South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor that will connect eastern Kenya with an oil pipeline and transportation corridor that stretches to Juba and Addis Ababa.

The project’s future plan also shows that Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be included with projected costs estimated at between $23 and $30 billion.

The concerned parties must come to a middle ground to restore peace in South Sudan.