3 July 2012

South Sudan VP Recieves Cool Reception in Lakes State Over Border Dispute

Photo: Louise Roland-Gosselin/ Médecins Sans Frontières
Displaced by conflict: The two nations failed to reach an agreement on key security and border issues during their last meeting.

Rumbek — South Sudan's Vice President, Riek Machar, who is heading a delegation to Lakes State from the country's ruling party, has received a cool reception in Rumbek due to a land dispute between Lakes and Unity States.

Attendance at the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) mobilisation rallies in Maper and Rumbek was low, with most of those present school children. The chiefs who attended are reported to have avoided direct communication with the Vice President.

Lakes State Minister of Information and Communication Charles Badiri Mayen said that the rally in Rumbek's Freedom Square was interrupted by rain, which he said partly explained the low turnout.

Large numbers of primary school children attended the event but Badiri declined to comment on the low attendance from the general public.

South Sudan's Vice President is at loggerheads with the Dinka community of Rumbek North (Maper) ever since he backed moving the Madol area into a Nuer controlled area of neighbouring Unity State.

Machar's position has been condemned by youth and intellectuals of the Maper community.

After seceding from Sudan a year ago, South Sudan is yet to demarcate its international borders.

The fact that Machar, who is a member of the Nuer tribe and was born in Unity State, is involved in the border dispute between Lakes and Unity State has frustrated many in Rumbek North.

Lakes State Paramount Chief Madol Mathok Agolder questioned why Machar was intervening in this internal border dispute rather than focusing on South Sudan's border dispute Khartoum.

"Mr. VP, you walk a lot at the borders - you walk and talk a lot about internal borders, what have you achieve in point of international borders as well leave alone internal border?" Chief Madol said referring to the Madol internal border, which has been a seen of conflict.

The Vice President declined to comment on the issue, preferring to talk about the purpose of his trip, which was to mobilise support for the SPLM.

Machar's office has been contacted by Sudan Tribune to comment on the issue.

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