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South Sudan Accuses Ugandans of Stealing Land

Land disputes are causing increased tensions along the border of South Sudan and Uganda.
Tensions along the South Sudan-Uganda border are strained due to land disputes between border communities.

The Commissioner of KajoKeji County in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state is accusing Ugandan authorities of encouraging farmers to encroach on South Sudanese land.

Commissioner Muki Batali said for months farmers from Moyo district in northern Uganda have been grabbing land in KajoKeji County, claiming it belongs to Uganda.

Batali said, ‘’What we have seen is that wherever they have pushed, then [their] government follows them and they appoint [a] local counselor. They also [build] roads and attempt to [build] schools. We are saying, no, if you are looking for cultivation land, we will not refuse to give you land, but you have to accept our administration.”

He warned that if the situation is not addressed the land dispute could lead to a wider conflict between South Sudan and Uganda. He said, ‘’If we were to respond to their provocations, it could have resulted in conflict. But we are trying to keep [the] law. It is they [the Ugandans] who are always provoking us."

Batali accuses Ugandan farmers of stealing a tractor last year during the planting season. A local committee reported the case to Juba to take up with authorities in Kampala.

Batali made his comments while visiting Washington, DC at the invitation of the KajoKeji Women's Association, which is based in the United States.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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