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Sudan Tribune

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Vehicles pile up on Uganda-South Sudan border

December 17, 2013 (KAMPALA) – About 100 vehicles destined for South Sudan are stuck on the Ugandan side of the border at Olego, according to local residents and a Ugandan government spokesman.

In this handout image from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, taken on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, Civilians arrive at UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport to take refuge. (AP Photo/UNMISS/Rolla Hinedi)
In this handout image from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, taken on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, Civilians arrive at UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport to take refuge. (AP Photo/UNMISS/Rolla Hinedi)
“People are not being allowed to cross into South Sudan. They are being chased away. Even the people in South Sudan are not being allowed into Uganda”, Martin Okoba, a local leader in the area, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

“We have about 100 vehicles stuck at Olego. We are not doing any business. Only the people operating restaurants are doing some business”, he said.

Spokesman for the Ugandan government Ofwono Opondo said the Ugandan border remains open despite the current tensions in Juba, adding that additional “security measures” had been put in place.

“The border is not closed. It remains open, but vehicles have begun piling [up] at the border in Nimule and Oraba”, Ofwono said on Tuesday.

The Ugandan government spokesperson said they had not received any reports about Ugandans killed or injured in the fighting, which South Sudanese president Salva Kiir described on Monday as an “attempted coup” to overthrow his government.

NO TROOPS DEPLOYED

Meanwhile, Opondo has dismissed rumours that Uganda had sent troops to South Sudan to beef up support for president Kiir.

“We have not had forces now or before in South Sudan”, Opondo said.

Uganda and South Sudan have close security relations, with Uganda providing support for South Sudan’s independence struggle from Sudan.

BIG BLOW FOR TRADE

Uganda has been a leading trade partner with South Sudan since 2007, according to the World Bank. South Sudan imports most of its food products from Uganda and the latter has also been a key supporter of the new nation’s bid to join the regional bloc, the East African Community (EAC). However, with goods currently unable to cross in to South Sudan, trade between the two countries is expected to be hard hit if the situation in Juba takes a long time to normalise.

(ST)