Thursday, May 28, 2015

Uganda Parliament Urges to Withdraw Troops From South Sudan
May 27, 2015 (KAMPALA) – Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday called on the government of president Yoweri Museveni to withdraw the country’s troops from the neighbouring South Sudan, saying the cost for their operations was very high and a burden to taxpayers.

Thousands of troops of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) backed with helicopter gunships, tanks and other armoured vehicles, have been deployed in South Sudan since December 2013 to rescue president Salva Kiir from rebel fighters led by former vice president, Riek Machar.

President Museveni on many occasions said the intervention was necessary to maintain the government of president Salva Kiir and stability in the new nation. He also said the forces will not withdraw until he was rest assured that Juba was “secure.”

But Uganda parliament on Tuesday said the cost for keeping UPDF in South Sudan had been a huge burden shouldered by the taxpayers in the country.

In a report presented to the parliament by its specialized committee on defence and internal affairs, the document called on the government to pull out the forces and instead to ask the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to provide alternative forces to protect Juba and other vital areas.

“The committee urges government to continue engaging IGAD to ensure a neutral force is deployed,” the report said as reported by Ugandan Daily Monitor.

“This is because the continued presence of the UPDF in South Sudan is proving to be a very high cost to the Ugandan taxpayer,” the lawmakers further said.

Uganda defence ministry also revealed that the country has so far spent over 119 billion Shillings to finance its intervention in South Sudan, saying this was costlier than the country army’s operations in Somalia.


However, defence minister, Crispus Kiyonga, told the parliament, Tuesday, that Ugandan troops will not withdraw from South Sudan despite the cost, adding that Juba government continues to pay UPDF for its other expenses including fuel for the operations against the rebels.

He said the previously talked about alternative force from IGAD had not materialized and therefore UPDF will continue to help defend president Kiir’s government.

“The IGAD force that was supposed to take the place of the UPDF has not yet become a reality. To that extent, therefore, we will remain put in South Sudan,” he declared.

However observers doubt that the parliament, which is controlled by the ruling party, will come out with a resolution directing the government to effect withdrawal of the forces.

A cessation of hostilities agreement (CoHA) signed by the two warring parties on 23 January, 2014, under the mediation of IGAD, and which called for withdrawal of all foreign forces from South Sudan, has not been implemented.

IGAD is yet to announce a date on which the peace negotiations will resume in Addis Ababa under a new expanded mechanism that will include countries and international bodies outside the African continent.


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