Posted on Monday, 07 October 2013 14:48

Ugandan MPs oppose South Sudan joining East African community

By Godfrey Olukya

A diplomatic stand-off is looming, as Ugandan legislators are opposed to South Sudan joining the East African Community (EAC), claiming its citizens are being mistreated in Africa's youngest state.

This comes amid reports that Ugandans have been banned from operating commuter motorcycles in South Sudan's capital, Juba and other towns.

There were allegations that hundreds of Ugandans working in South Sudan had been indiscriminately assaulted, had their motorcycles confiscated, while others were deported.

Motorcycles or boda-boda, where passengers ride on the back of a cycle, while clinging onto the cyclist, are mostly operated by youths and has of late become a popular means of transport in most parts of East Africa.

"I was beaten up and my motorcycle was taken away by armed South Sudanese," Philip Musoke, a Ugandan, who was recently deported from South Sudan claimed.

Ugandan legislators, after hearing such testimonies, have asked the EAC to halt the admission of South Sudan into the regional bloc.

"It is unfortunate that South Sudanese are harassing Ugandans," a Ugandan legislator, Hamson Obua said. "If they do not change their behavior, they should not be allowed to join the community."

Another Ugandan MP, Nabilah Sempala said, "They should not be admitted if they do not stop harassing Ugandans".

"When they come here, we give them the hospitality they deserve, but when our people go there, they are beaten and raped.

In his country's defence, a South Sudan official in Uganda, Dennis Kotek said some Ugandan boda-boda operators were allegedly involved in robbery and other illegal activities and that is why they were banned.

South Sudan applied for entry into the EAC in 2011 immediately after acquiring independence.

Last year, heads of state from the regional bloc considered the request but deferred a decision on the matter.

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