Leaders from Turkana County and Kapoeta State of South Sudan yesterday endorsed an international border agreement signed between Kenya and South Sudan, to solve border conflict between the two countries.
In a bilateral meeting held in Kapoeta, the leaders unanimously declared their support for the boundary delimitation and demarcation MoU which was signed by Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Monica Juma and her South Sudanese counterpart Nhial Deng Nhial in Nairobi last month.
Led by Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes and Governor Josphat Nanok, the leaders held consultations with the South Sudanese delegation headed by Governor of Kapoeta State Louis Lojore Lobong, and were sensitized on the contents of the MoU whose implementation agreement was signed by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Salva Kiir in 17th June.
The leaders committed to embark on joint community sensitization exercise and drum for the support of boundary delimitation and demarcation as solution to intercommunity conflict the Turkana and Toposa and to deepen existing relations between the two countries. A community sensitization committee was formulated to spearhead the drive, comprising of elected leaders from both sides.
In his remarks Governor Nanok informed the leaders that the meeting was a directive of Presidents Uhuru and Salva Kiir who had insisted upon the interaction of two sets of leaders. He acknowledged that the two communities had held extensive previous engagements on peace and security of the border.
He said: “I know there will be issues to do with colonial history on boundaries and migration patterns but there are mechanisms set in the MoU for the communities to express themselves and for bodies formed to look at that and make a decision.” He said the diplomatic framework of the MoU depended on joint sensitization of the communities to ensure delivery of one message.
CS Munyes said the leaders’ meeting was important to build consensus on the MoU and develop teamwork ahead of the boundary delimitation and demarcation. He assured leaders that the MoU had been drafted in the spirit of friendship and the process of its implementation tailored to jointly seek solutions to the boundary issue.
Host Governor Lobong thanked the two presidents for the wisdom to seek for a resolution of a long standing problem over the boundary. He reiterated the calls by other speakers that the border demarcation should encourage communities to “build bridges rather than barriers”.
The meeting set the joint community sensitization exercise for the last week of this month in Nadapal, Kibish town, Nasinyono and Napak in Kenya and Narus, Naliel, Napwatasigira, Nanyangachor and Lotimor/Nakuwa.
The leaders also addressed emerging security issues along the border and passed resolutions to foster peaceful coexistence in the course of the boundary delimitation and demarcation initiative.
Members of Parliament who were part of delegation included Senator Malachy Ekal, who urged the leaders to rebuild the sense of brotherhood between the two communities according to their shared ancestry as members of the larger Ateker. Others were Daniel Epuyo (Turkana West), Christopher Nakuleu (Turkana North), John Lodepe (Turkana Central), and Mohamed Ali Lokiru (Turkana East).
Speaker of the County Assembly Erastus Lokaale led a host of MCAs were also present in the meeting, who included Leader of Majority Bethwel Lochor, Leader of Minority Benedict Lokamar among others.
County Secretary Peter Eripete who accompanied the Governor said the Kenya- South Sudan border remained one of the least developed of Kenya’s borders but said the MoU if well implemented will solve the problems that had hampered development. Other officials were CECM for Public Service and Disaster Management Esther Lokwei, Senior Advisor for Security, Peace and Borderlands Initiatives Cpt. (Rtd.) Augustine Lokwang and Director Peace Col. (Rtd.) Edward Lojore among others.
From the national government were the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, Director of the Kenya International Boundaries Office Jasper Nkoroi, Kenya Ambassador to South Sudan Pius Mburu and other officials from the Office of the Attorney General.