March 17, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) — Coming to 8 years, South Sudan government has failed to settle claims amounting to Shs 122bn ($49m) for goods and services supplied to it by Ugandan traders and efforts to compel the Juba government to clear the debt have remained futile.
Traders last week threatened to take up the matter in their hands by taking to the streets, while others vowed to take vengeance on the lives and property on the south Sudanese living in Uganda.
There are now fears of possible closure of the South Sudanese border if the matter is not amicably handled.
Police boss Gen Kale Kayihura, however, at the close of last week hastened to warn the traders against their unrestrained anger.
He noted that some elements could want to use the opportunity to destabilise the city.
Forum for Democratic Change [FDC], however, on Monday advised government to elevate the matter from Kampala to more potent International bodies to which the South Sudanese government owes allegiance and membership.
“We hear that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD] is currently occupied with restoration of stability in the country, and that president Museveni is a key figure there; why doesn’t he raise this matter during these security meeting meetings?” FDC spokesperson Hon Nabila Sempala pointed out.
“We could also use the matter to block South Sudan from joining the EAC which we understand has been their long held desire, on grounds that if allowed in, the rest of the federation members that will do business with them could also fall victim.”
The party also hinted on invoking the African Union as well as other international trade treaties to which the world’s youngest nation is signatory, to arm-twist them clear the outstanding debt.
Nabila further criticised Kale Kayihura for ‘restraining the traders from putting out their legitimate cause and trying to sneak an irrelevant aver to such a sensitive matter, that some wrong elements could use the issue to destabilise the country and cause bloodshed.’
The traders reportedly wanted to go on strike last month but President Museveni promised to talk to South Sudan President Salva Kiir.
The president also directed Finance Minister Hon Maria Kiwanuka to meet her South Sudanese counterpart Kosti Manibe Ngai have the matter resolved.
Ministries of trade and Foreign Affairs and General Kayihura have also reportedly essayed intervening in the matter without much success.
“This is becoming confusing and we are wondering who exactly is responsible on handling this matter? Besides, this confusion we believe is the reason the standoff has persisted,” added Nabila.
State Minister for Industry, James Mutende, said last month that negotiations had been ongoing before the civil war and a committee was set up by the two countries to verify the traders’ claims.
“We have been engaging with the South Sudan government for a while through the Foreign Affairs, trade and Finance ministries to do verification of the contracts. When the war broke out, the negotiations were suspended but as soon as order returns, we shall resume the process,” Mr Mutende explained.
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