How ferocious fighting between top South Sudan Archbishops spilled into Uganda refugee camp

The row between the defrocked Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s Jonglei Internal Province, Ruben Ngong Akurdid, and his replacement, Moses Anur, spilled over to a refugee camp in Uganda on Wednesday leading to the shooting of a refugee and arrest of two others.

The Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the ECSS, Dr. Justin Badi Arama, defrocked Akurdid in August 2020 after accusing him of canonical disobedience after the latter disallowed his suspension from the church over the unilateral creation of dioceses in the province and instead sought redress from the High Court in Juba. Akurdid had also clocked the retirement age.

Pastor John Akol Mayen of the ECSS Jonglei Internal Province community in exile in Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement in Uganda’s Adjumani District told Radio Tamazuj Thursday that Archbishop Moses Anur has since last December been on a canonical visit to the diocese’s congregation in Uganda and was given permission by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) which is in charge of refugees in Uganda.

“He visited refugees in Kiriandongo, Arua, and Koboko districts and is currently in Adjumani District to visit refuges here too. He was scheduled to come to Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement but yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning, a group of refugees who support retired Archbishop Akurdid came and locked the church,” he explained. “However, when the District Commissioner and the police commander intervened, I opened the church so the Archbishop could enter and hold a service in the parish but the group supporting Akurdid attacked me. In the process, the Uganda Police shot and injured one of them in the knee and arrested two others.”

He added, “The police took the injured one to Adjumani Hospital under custody and the two others are in police custody.”

According to Akol, the group supporting Akurdid was mobilized by a pastor called Simon Garang of St. John Parish in Nyumanzi.

“They attacked me in the church and vandalized church property,” Akol said.

He said he was in Adjumani Town and could not go to his home in the refugee settlement and that the Uganda Police were protecting him.

“They blamed me for opening the church but how can I block the Archbishop from accessing the church?” he asked. “The church does not belong to an individual, it is for everybody.”

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