South Sudan-Uganda-Kenya Dynamics

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According to IWPR, the South Sudanese – unlike the Sudanese – have had good relations with Kampala for at least 20 years. However, in 2008, their relationship took a downturn after rebel leader Joseph Kony twice failed to appear to sign a peace agreement that had been two years in the making. Following Kony’s no-show in May 2008, Uganda demanded military action against the rebels.[1]

In 2011, according to South Sudan minister of Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Barnabas Marial, Uganda was earning about $200 million (460 billion Shillings) annually from trade with South Sudan. Dr. Marial said Uganda was South Sudan's biggest trade partner, with over 150,000 traders from Uganda in South Sudan.[2]

From 1993, Joseph Kony received full support from the Sudanese government. Shortly before unleashing aerial attacks on the South’s territory, Sudan accused South Sudan and Uganda of backing the rebels in Darfur.[3]

Mustafa Osman Ismail, an advisor to the Sudanese President Omar Bashir, warned that Khartoum would not stand by while Kampala and Juba continued backing rebels in Darfur.[3]

In May 2012, it was announced that the Ugandan Parliament would send a delegation to Khartoum and to Juba in a bid to find a solution to the tension between the two countries. The deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, is quoted in New Vision, a Ugandan daily newspaper, as saying "As Ugandans, we do not want war between the two countries. It will affect the region adversely... We shall constitute a delegation to Khartoum and to Juba and if possible visit the area under tension,”[4]


In March 2012, the leaders of South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya held a ground-breaking ceremony in the Kenyan port of Lamu to launch the $23 billion Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).[3]. This project entails building pipelines, roads and a railway from South Sudan and Ethiopia to a new deepwater port in Lamu. LAPSSET would give both landlocked countries crucial access to the sea.[4] For South Sudan LAPSSET would reduce its dependence on Sudan.[5]

Kenya is also South Sudan’s main conduit of arms, with some of the arms supplies docking at Mombasa supposedly for Kenya ending up in South Sudan.[3]

The relations between Kenya and South Sudan have been further enhanced by the positive treatment of South Sudanese refugees in Kenya. This has made it easier for the two countries to establish connections both at the individual and national level. Following the independence of South Sudan there have been several initiatives aimed at strengthening and formalizing relations between the two countries. A significant role played by Kenya was to support the country in establishing a new government system in South Sudan.[4]


  1. "The South's trading trajectory" ACR Issue 178, 10 July 2008.
  2. "South Sudan Falls Out With Uganda" All Africa, 7 February 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Kenya, Uganda risk entering Sudan conflict " The Independent, Uganda, 21 April 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Uganda sends peace team to Sudan" New Vision, 18 May 2012.
  5. "The mega-port that threatens to sink Sudan" U.S. Energy Information Administration, 23 May 2013.