The commissioner of Kapoeta East County, Eastern Equatoria State, has called upon the state and national governments to intervene in border encroachment by the Kenya Defense forces.
Abdallah Lokeno says three Kenyan military pickups on Tuesday entered the country through the Nakodo border without any authorization.
The soldiers, whose mission is yet to be established, “visited” villages in the area at night.
“When our youth heard that some Kenyan soldiers had entered the area, they mobilized themselves in order to fight them off. But I stopped them,” Lokeno told Singaita FM.
As a result, the youth and other members of the community staged a peaceful protest in an attempt to alert the higher authorities.
Some of the youth marched, carrying “President Salva Kiir: Act on this Kenyan aggression” and “We are ready to defend our territory to the last man” placards.
“We, the authorities of Kapoeta East, are requesting the national government for intervention immediately,” he added.
For his part, the state minister for local government, and law enforcement, Peter Lokeng Lotone, confirmed the incident.
“Let our communities be patient as the national government look into the matter. We don’t want any violence, because we know our borderline between us and Kenyans,” Lokeng stated.
However, Kenyan media have reported that some KDF soldiers were deployed to protect road workers building a 11-km stretch from Nadapal to Nakodo.
“The road must be built between Nadapal and Nakodo. A new cohort of police reservists must be recruited, trained, and armed immediately to bring security and stability in this area,” Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told Citizen TV on Thursdays.
Parts of Kapoeta East falls under the Ilemi Triangle – a disputed territory, which is claimed by South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. Following numerous efforts to demarcate the area over the last 100 years, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan have all made conflicting de jure and de facto claims.
In 2009, Juba and Nairobi inked a Memorandum of Understanding to allow Kenya to temporarily set up a control border post near Nadapal but the deal did not include any action on the disputed border.
Named after Anuak chief Ilemi Akwon and measuring about 11,000 square kilometers, Illemi Triangle is a mineral rich area.