South Sudan and Kenya have signed Memorandum of Understanding to fast track the territorial border reaffirmation at Ilemi triangle as a step towards the realization of peace between the two countries.
South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng, and Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma on Tuesday agreed to launch the first ever joint commission to enhance trade and bilateral relations between the two countries.
The move will see teams from South Sudan and Kenyan negotiate a number of instruments to govern the relationship between the two countries on trade and investment.
The framework agreement is expected to be discussed during a meeting between President Salva Kiir and President Uhuru Kenyatta -to be scheduled later in the year.
“We’ll also discuss various bilateral agreements and explore ways of working together in the region, key among them peace and security,” Nhial said.
Monica Juma said they had planned a series of talks ahead of a visit by Kiir to Nairobi to review the security and management of the border between the two countries.
They will also discuss how to fast-track the implementation of the peace process in South Sudan and how Kenya could cooperate on regional infrastructure development.
The inter-ethnic conflict in the Ilemi triangle is basically between the Toposa, Turkana in Kenya, and Nyang’atom of Ethiopia.
The Ilemi Triangle is an area reportedly named after Anyuak chief Ilemi Akwon, a territory claimed by South Sudan and Kenya and borders Ethiopia.
The status of Elemi Triangle is confusing according to international institutions and the three governments.
The dispute arose from unclear wording of colonial-era treaties, which attempted to allow for the movements of Turkana nomadic herders.
The Ethiopian government has never made an official claim on any of the Ilemi and in fact agreed that the land was all Sudanese in the 1902, 1907, and 1972 treaties.
In 2011, the Sudanese claim to the Ilemi Triangle was transferred to the new national government in Juba.
Kenya has de facto control of part of the area, and has deployed Military and paramilitary in the area, saying the move is in response to cattle rustling and cross-border insecurity among Turkana, Toposa, Didinga, Nyangatom, Dessanach of Ethiopia and Karamajong of Uganda.
Kenya has set a base a few kilometers away from Napadapal checkpoint -unofficially giving it control over the triangle.
Officials in South Sudan say the territory was never legally transferred to Kenya by a 1936 undertaking that allowed the British colonial governor of Kenya to administer it on behalf of the then colonial authorities in Juba. The territory was retained by Kenya after Sudan’s independence in 1956.
In recent decades, South Sudan and Kenya have had other priorities, delaying a resolution to the issue.
The recent discovery of oil and other minerals in the region however complicates its resolution.
The Transitional National Legislative Assembly on Tuesday June, 18, 2019 sent a notice to the Minister of Defense, Kuol Manyang and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng to appear before the house to explain the disputed triangle.
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