By Frank Kamuntu
South Sudan government has asked the government of Uganda for a loan to cover service fees for South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), after the Saudi-based ArabSat threatened to shut down the station over failure by the government to pay its costs.
Early this week, the ArabSat said it was closing down the country’s only TV station after the S.Sudan government’s failure to pay costs.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday afternoon, a foreign ministry official said South Sudan has requested the Ugandan government for a $2 million loan to cover the costs so that their only TV station is not switched off air.
“The government of the Republic of South Sudan has requested – from the Ugandan government – a $2-million loan to pay for the SSBC service provider, the ArabSat,” the official who requested not to be named, said.
He said this was “to avoid shame for the government of the Republic of South Sudan and its people.”
He further added that the ministry of information has written to the Arabsat asking for a seven-day period before they could arrange the payment.
“This comes at a time when new clashes between opposing forces in S. Sudan have erupted in the disputed region of Abyei, Kolom Village of Alal County, where gunmen killed 29 civilians including 9 children,” Kuol Alor Kuol, the head of the Abyei Administrative Area, revealed to media.
He said 15 children were abducted by the attackers and 18 civilians were injured.
Kuol described the incident as “horrific”, adding that the attackers were identified as members of the Misseriya tribe.
“At leatlst 22 homes have been burnt by the attackers, so this is what had happened in Abyei,” Kuol said.
The chief administrator appealed to the United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) to scale up security measures to protect residents from attacks.
The oil-rich Abyei area, inhabited by Misseriya Arab nomads in the north and Ngok Dinka people in the south, is disputed between Sudan and South Sudan. Abyei is now under the administration of the UN interim security force.
The Abyei Area is measures 10,546 km2 in Sudan and was accorded “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) that ended the second Sudanese Civial War
In contrast to the borders of the former district, the Abyei Protocol defined the Abyei Area as “the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofarn in 1905”.
However, following continued disputes that erupted into violence and threatened the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an International Arbitration, the process re-drew Abyei’s boundaries in 2009 to make it significantly smaller, extending no farther north and this revised border has since been endorsed by all parties to the dispute.