Kampala — The governor of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state, Louis Lobong Lojore, has urged South Sudanese citizens in the country and abroad to work together to protect the nation’s natural resources against exploitation by external forces and support a peaceful solution to the current crisis.
The governor has warned that neighbouring countries could work to further destabilise South Sudan in order to take advantage of its natural resources.
“There are people whose interests are to sponsor conflicts in order to benefit from it. And their interest [is] to let us fight among ourselves [and] at the end of conflict we will find all our resources has end[ed] up somewhere with them. Let us be careful and open our eyes in order for the safety of our country’s resources,” said Lojore.
With valuable natural resources, including oil, Lojore said South Sudan is at risk of being plundered by greedy neighbouring countries, calling on people to “wake up” before it was too late.
While the governor stops short of naming which countries may pose the biggest threat to South Sudan’s natural resources, Uganda’s involvement in the conflict has raised tensions.
The Ugandan military deployed troops to fight rebel forces alongside the South Sudanese army (SPLA).
The move has angered South Sudan’s rebel movement, led by former vice-president Riek Machar, who is accused of orchestrating an alleged coup attempt on 15 December, which the government blames for the widespread outbreak of violence.
Uganda has been accused by some countries of sponsoring conflicts in the Congo, Rwanda, Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Somalia, with the intention of smuggling minerals.
Lojore says South Sudan is blessed with a diversity of minerals, including black gold and diamonds, which he fears could end up in foreign hands if a full-scale regional war broke out.
The governor told Sudan Tribune that the Equatoria region had long been marginalised by South Sudan’s leadership in Juba, which has offered scholarships and opportunities to members of a certain tribe, while denying others.
He said Equatoria students had largely missed out on funding handed out to help students study abroad.
Addressing Equatoria students last week, Lojore urged students to continue to excel, saying the region’s leaders would continue to fight for a more equal distribution of scholarships.