Tuesday, June 27, 2017

South Sudan Rebels Say Granted Safe Passage for UPDF Soldiers
Soldiers from the Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) patrol near the border, file photo (AFP)

June 26, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebels allied to the country’s former First Vice-President, Riek Machar say they provided safe passage for Uganda soldiers who returned from their mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) via Kaya on South Sudan’s border with Uganda.

The deputy spokesperson for the armed opposition, Col. Paul Lam dismissed reports that the South Sudanese army (SPLA) crossed into Kaya for the first time after failing to access it on several attempts.

Lam said their intelligence got information that Ugandan troops were returning via Yei-Kaya road to Koboko district in the West-Nile.

“The Juba government claimed that its forces captured Kaya town on 23/06/2017 after coming from Yei. That convoy included Uganda People’s Defence Force that returned from their base at the border of the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan. Juba militias just found a way out with the presence of the UPDF. The SPLA-IO does not attack foreign soldiers on a mission not related to the destruction of South Sudan,” Lam told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

Kaya, located along Uganda-South Sudan border, and is one of the busiest areas in terms of businesses and other trade-related activities.

The rebels also refuted accusations that its forces abducted people and raided hundreds of cattle from Moyo district, north of Uganda.

“This is a baseless allegation aimed at derailing the good relationship that the civilians of Kajo-Keji have with the people of Moyo. The government of Juba has got two bases at the border of Moyo, Jale and Bamure. It’s unfortunate that the forces from these two bases always enter with their weapons into Moyo,” stressed Lam.

Sections of the media in Uganda reported that unknown armed men from neighbouring South Sudan entered into Uganda and seized several heard of cattle from Moyo town last week. The rebels, however, denied any involvement in the cattle raid, calling for further investigation into the matter by authorities in Uganda.

The South Sudanese army said Friday that it gained control of Kaya town on the border with Uganda, confirming previous reports of clashes in the area between the government forces and the armed opposition fighters.

A high-ranking military officer, who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak with the media told Sudan Tribune that their troops entered Kaya after several months of on and off fighting with armed opposition forces.

“We have just entered Kaya this afternoon. There was no fighting. We arrived peacefully from Yei town. The situation appears to be normalising and this is why we came to open the road," said the army general.

"We will be coordinating our operation with colleagues from Uganda defence forces who will be stationed on the side of the border. Our security strategy and plans of action will be coordinated," he further said.

A legislator representing an area covering Kaya at the National Legislative Assembly in Juba said he received reports from local people that a heavily armed convoy of more than 10 vehicles had entered Kaya on Friday afternoon after a platoon of soldiers first entered on Thursday through the Yei-Kaya road.


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