Humiliating climbdown by Juba regime as expulsion order rescinded


(Posted 18th September 2014)

Plans announced two days ago by the regime of Salva Kiir, to expel all foreigners come 15th of October and hand over their jobs to locals, met with sustained opposition from regional partner countries, where in particular in Kenya and Uganda government officials and members of parliament let undiplomatic utterances fly in the direction of Juba. The chorus of angry voices was united in telling the regime in Juba off, citing an endless list of what Kenya and Uganda had done for South Sudan, during the independence war, during the pre-independence years and since independence, besides still hosting tens of thousands of South Sudanese on their soil as refugees and letting them operate their businesses.

After all we have done for these people is that how they now treat our nationals? We had so many cases in the past where South Sudanese in Juba had muscled into businesses owned by Ugandans or mistreated traders, even raped women, and now this? Only a few days ago they abducted Ugandans in Moyo. This has to end, they either behave like civilized people and like partners or else let them do their things without our help, if at all they are capable of that. But remember, the imports come through the roads from Kenya and Uganda and if they want trouble, you can guess who comes out on top’ let one Ugandan parliamentarian fly, giving a clear indication of how the Juba directive has been received.

Threats were thinly concealed that, should the Juba regime not reverse their decision, membership of the East African Community could be delayed and support for the regime, politically and militarily, be reduced or completely phased out.

Ugandans were particularly angry, considering that the Kiir regime has been propped up in the present conflict by the presence of armed forces from Uganda with several officials under condition of anonymity saying that should Ugandan’s be expelled from their work places in South Sudan and from their businesses this could lead to broad demands for the return of the UPDF, leaving Kiir’s regime exposed to the core. It was very likely this prospect which dawned on the regime leadership in Juba and prompted a swift climb down and reversal of the announcement made the day earlier.

It therefore came as little surprise that late afternoon yesterday two regular sources from Juba confirmed that the ill-considered directive has been officially withdrawn.

The social media were also full of comments as the proverbial s***-storm erupted on Twitter and Facebook with very few comments in favour and the overwhelming majority condemning the expulsion plans which would have affected to a very large extent Ugandans and Kenyans alike.

What is now needed for the torn country is a return to peace through a political settlement which can then provide a conducive environment for tourism to resume and business to prosper, with more and more locals then absorbed into formal employment or else taking entrepreneurial opportunities and start their own business.

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