Uganda: UPDF will not help South Sudan government to fight rebels in Bentiu!
April 16, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, clarified that his troops will not rescue the troubled government of South Sudan in Bentiu, Unity state. Uganda has participated in liberating the three cities of Bor, Malakal and Bentiu after they were overran by the armed opposition in December.
The oil rich city of Bentiu was swiftly taken by the armed oppositions led by the self-imposed military governor, Maj. Gen.James Koang Chuol and his notorious counterpart Maj. Gen. Gatdet Yaka after a fierce battle on Tuesday.
The long planned attack has also seized Rubkhona, Kubur Nyabol, Tor-Abieth,Tharwangyela, and Tombura within three days.
Government soldiers in Leer have reportedly disappeared following the 3 days rebel operations in the state. Juba has acknowledged that loyal forces withdrew from Leer, the home town of Dr. Riek Machar, the former vice president, who is now leading the armed opposition.
Rebels have claimed to have killed over 500 government soldiers in Bentiu and claimed to have captured government officials including Maj. Gen. Carlos Kuol, a leading commander of SSLA rebels, who are loosely backing the government.
The SSLA rebels, who have been accused of hiding the cattle raiders by [Warrap] twic county commissioner, have distanced themselves from the government forces. Some are reported to have defected while other are blamed to have pulled out of Rubkhona, leading to the defeat of the loyal forces by the rebels. It is not yet clear where they headed to but government sources believe that they are still in the area.
The Uganda army, who are suppose to withdraw this month, made their decision after Sudan warplanes were suspected of bombing Pariang, earlier last week in a chase-hunt of their rebels, the JEM and SPLM-North. Sudanese rebels have been accused of fighting the South Sudanese rebels in support of the Juba government.
Sudan has also protested the present of Uganda army, the UPDF, in South Sudan and warned of their present along the Sudanese border.
Sudan and Uganda have had political differences as Bashir accuses his counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, of harboring his disgruntled oppositions.
UPDF started participating in South Sudanese conflict, in December, with hopes to defeat Riek Machar in a short time, if he doesn’t surrender, but the war has dragged on for 4 months.
With more defections and influx of the white army, Dr. Riek has threatens to shut down all the oil fields and match his forces to capital, Juba, in the present of UPDF, should the peace mediation fails in Addis Ababa.
In January, UPDF helped SPLA to recapture the strategic town of Bor, in Jonglei state, after Maj. Gen. Gatdet Yaka has defeated the SPLA in fierce battles, which were constantly fought for three weeks.
The UPDF has also fought in Malakal, Bentiu and many parts of Jonglei state alongside the government forces but now decided to remain in defense of Bor and Juba.
“We still maintain our positions in Bor, Misitu and Juba,” noted Ankunda, and concludes that “We are not ready to advance to Bentiu.”
It is not, however, clear whether Ankunda refers to only ground support or also aerial support.
Instead Ankunda urges the warring parties to respect ceasefire agreement and halt fighting immediately. Akunda sees no point of UPDF staying in South Sudan should the warring factions respect the agreement and IGAD deploys its troops to monitor the ceasefire.
“Our plan is to withdraw as soon as the IGAD forces are deployed,” he said presently. “When that happens, we will have no cause to remain in South Sudan”.