The Question of the Ilemi Triangle: Can the Government in Juba be Trusted to Protect and Preserve our Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity?

Posted: June 22, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Can we trust the government in Juba to protect and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of South Sudan: The case of the Ilemi Triangle involving Juba, Nairobi and Addis Ababa? I think the answer, based on the track records of the government in Juba, is simply NO. The government of Kenya and Ethiopia will definitely and naturally do everything within their powers to cater to the interests of their respective nations and citizens; however, the same thing can’t be said for the government of South Sudan. Therefore, the fossilized issue of the Ilemi Triangle should be pushed to the foreseeable future when we shall, once more, be on our firm feet — to have settled our internal differences before embarking on resolving bilateral disputes with other nations, which are numerous: with Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo and Ethiopia — PaanLuel Wel Mediai Editorial note

June 20, 2019

To: Hon. Peter Marcello Jelenge, Chairperson, IBC

Presented by: Hon. Peter O. Kleto Aharanya.

Friday, June 20, 2019 (PW) — Dear Hon. Chairperson, On June 18, 2019, It was announced that officials from the ministries of foreign affairs of Kenya and South Sudan respectively agreed to find amicable solution to the question of Ilemi triangle. It is worth noting that ilemi triangle has long been an area of interest both during colonial and post-colonial eras because of its strategic location to Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan, and with the new discovery of Oil, huge deposit of gold, uranium and other minerals, Kenya is now trying to assume the area as its own official territory and this is the point of contention between Kenya and South Sudan and most importantly the people of Eastern Equatoria who are inhabitants of this important area called the “ilemi triangle. There has been inter-ethnic conflicts between the Akara( Toposa), South Sudan, Turkana of Kenya, and Nyangatom of Ethiopia in the area. When the colonial government allowed the Turkana to move freely into the Sudanese territory of ilemi triangle for grazing and water, it was under the understanding that they do it with respect and knowing that the land belongs to the Sudan.

Hon. Chairperson, The treaties of 1902, 1907 and 1972 respectively confirms the area is a Sudanese land legally and historically, to the extent that Ethiopia rescinded its interest to put claim on it and accepted the fact that it is a Sudanese territory. The imaginary lines of blue, red and yellow on the map of Ilemi triangle all attest in no uncertain that the land indeed belongs to the Sudan, Eastern Equatoria State. The royal Englineer, Captain Philip Maud surveyed the border between Ethiopia and the British East Africa in 1902 and and marked the Maud line which did not affect the fact that the territory belongs to Sudan, even an attempt by another royal Engineer Maj. Charles Gywn to rectify the border excluding Ethiopian Surveyors did not amend the map of the territory to favor Kenya and that survey was also rejected by the Ethiopian government. I want to note here that Ethiopia under King Menelik that was suspected to be one of the country to lay claim to the territory did not do so instead, Ethiopia surprised Kenyans and the Europeans by laying claim on lake Turkana and proposed a boundary with the British East Africa to run from Southern tip of the lake, East to the Indian Ocean, and then later on shifted Northward when British and Ethiopian signed a treaty. Because of the immense discussions on the area by the British and the Ethiopians, the two powers agreed to settle down in December of 1907 to have a frank talks on the area with all the evidences and it was agreed that ilemi triangle is a Sudanese territory and No country including Kenya can lay claim on it.

Hon. Chairperson, The agreement of 1914 between Sudan and Uganda was only to allow the Turkana to move into the area for grazing and land. I want to highlight to you here that the Northern regimes in Khartoum have always been against South Sudanese and have been conspiring with neighboring countries to fight South Sudanese and even ready to give our land to any country, South Sudanese did no power to protect themselves at that time. Because of this negative view of South Sudanese by the regimes in Khartoum, the Khartoum regime in 1928 allowed Kenya to deploy and take control of the area across the 1914 line in the name of protecting the Turkanas. As we all know that politics is not static, the Kenyan government sat down and decided to subsidized Sudanese to appease them in order to forget the territory or possibly enter into an agreement to cede the area to Kenya without consent of South Sudanese. The subsidy policy which was adopted by Kenya in 1929 did work because Sudan agreed to subsidized Kenya to occupy the area. The subsidization agreement, did not in any way alter decided the fact that the “Red Line” which was drawn to indicate the limit of grazing boundary where Turkana can graze their cattle remains unchanged because both the accords of 1929 to 1934 between the Governor of the Sudan and the Governor of Kenya attest to the same fact that the boundary on the grazing must be as per the 1914 Agreement, an agreement which also confirms that the area belongs to the Sudan and NOT to Kenya.

Hon. chairperson, Let me note here that the line that was drawn to replace the 1914 provisional straight line as required was mapped with clear stone monuments, Great Britain and Egypt accepted it, Italy rejected, but later on Italy decided to relinquish its claim to the area that it belongs to Ethiopia. I am arguing that even if Great Britain, Egypt and Italy were not to confirm that the land belong to Sudan, we would have still rule them out because they are not South Sudanese, it is our land and we cannot surrender to anyone. In 1941, the British forces of the King’s African Rifles took control of Ilemi triangle during World War II. The British troops passed through Ilemi on their way to southwestern part of Ethiopia. When Sudan establish its own patrol line in 1950 northwest into Sudan to prevent Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists from moving west of it. This drastic move led Kenya to call for an agreement with the Sudan and accepting the fact that the patrol line will not affect the sovereignty of the Sudan and that the line is not in anyway an international boundary. This clear acceptance of the truth by Kenyan at that time led Sudan to agree for Kenya to patrol the territory and Sudan paid the security fees since the territory belongs to the Sudan. This is a confirmation that that the ownership of the territory should smoothly be handed over to South Sudan without any debate.

Hon. Chairperson, I want to remind you that in 1967 the then administration of President Kenyatta had made a diplomatic attempt to convince the British to secure approval for the forceful occupation of Illemi Triangle but unfortunately the British decline to act knowing that the area belongs to Sudan and would create endless conflict which will destabilize the two countries and the region including the international community.

Hon. Chairperson, our case with Ethiopia with regards to the territory is over, the 1972 Addis Ababa peace accord and the discussion of the Sudan-Ethiopia teams on the area resolved that the area belongs to Sudan and Ethiopia agreed never to lay a claim on it, Kenya was not involved in the discussion, we are calling on the Kenyan government to follow the foot steps of Ethiopia in regards to the land that is the surrender it to the rightful owners.

Hon. Chairperson, it is disheartening to know that Kenyans since 1960s have marked and maintained the red line as official boundary between Sudan and Kenya without any authentic legal or historical evidence, The current Kenyan maps depict the 1950 patrol line, the furthest northwest, as the boundary which is unacceptable. Because we have failed to follow this case after our independence. Wars and division of South Sudanese has encouraged the neighboring countries to encroached onto our lands since we are busy fighting each other and have not time to check our boundaries. The ownership of the territory could have been claimed since a long time ago. I am recommending that not only the issue of the claim of the land should be seek but also the treaties allowing Turkana and others grazing rights in our country (South Sudan).


Hon. Peter O. Kleto Aharanya

June 20th, 2019

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s