South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement resolving the controversy over its approval of Cairo’s request to establish a military base near the Ethiopian border.
The ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday that the information circulated on social media about this agreement is unfounded.
The statement indicated that: “No agreement has ever been reached to allocate a land lot for an Egyptian military base in South Sudan.”
The ministry conveyed: “Both countries, Ethiopia and Egypt, are good friends of South Sudan, and cooperate to implement the reactivated agreement to resolve the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, especially in the second chapter that deals with security arrangements, as well as contributing to combating the coronavirus pandemic.”
The ministry pointed out that Ethiopia is helping to maintain peace and security in the border region of Abyei, in cooperation with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), adding that: “These false allegations and propaganda are launched by the enemies of peace in the country, in order to disturb our relations with neighbouring countries and the entire region.”
The ministry mentioned that South Sudan is a: “Peace-loving country, and will continue to support peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, the region and the world for the mutual benefit of all.”
Juba TV reported that the government of South Sudan agreed to Egypt’s request to build a military base in the Pajok region, where a military official was quoted as stating that the base would harbour about 250 Egyptian soldiers, to be ready for all possibilities related to the construction of the Renaissance Dam by Ethiopia.
“The government of the Republic of South Sudan and the South Sudan Defence Forces agreed to allocate a land lot to our Egyptian brothers, who asked for a plot of land in eastern [South Sudan] to deploy their forces,” Juba TV revealed.
This came in line with the statement of the military official who indicated, on condition of anonymity, that this step will boost development in the country.
In a related context, an official at South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that the land lot will only be used for development purposes that Egypt has pledged to provide to the smallest country in the world, noting that the Egyptians will use the land to boost a much-needed development in the Republic of South Sudan.
South Sudan’s News Now quoted an official in the Foreign Ministry as stating that: “Egypt is the only country in Africa that has been at our side for the past decade since we gained our independence.”
Earlier, Ethiopia announced its intention to start filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam this year, without prior agreement with Egypt and Sudan, which was rejected by the Egyptian authorities, submitting a memorandum to the Security Council.
However, last Thursday Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopian minister of water, irrigation and energy, asserted that his country would not recognise Egypt’s historical rights to the Nile’s water.