Breaking News: South Sudan Ambassador to Uganda admitts funding UPDF with Billions of Dollars
Updated at 12:45Am, July 24, 2014(Pacific Time).
July 24th, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) — The South Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda, Samuel Luate Lominsuk, has confirmed that, indeed, the South Sudan government is footing the fuel and oil costs of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) in South Sudan.
The confirmation from the ambassador follows in a line of explanations that the UPDF has been giving for its continued stay and guarding of government installations in the war-torn nation of South Sudan.
Conflicting statements had earlier been issued to the media by both governments on who is funding the operations of the UPDF in South Sudan. However, in a closed session of a defense committee meeting at Uganda Parliament yesterday, UPDF revealed that they were getting extra funding from the South Sudan government for their ‘mobility costs’.
Documents tabled to the MP’s with restricted access place the figure that has so far been spent by the army at 22 billion shillings for the past three months.
The South Sudan ambassador now offers new insights into the highly secretive status of Forces Agreement signed between the two countries, saying that the UPDF is only catering for the salaries of soldiers while the South Sudan government handles the rest of the fees.
The ambassador speaking from his residence to URN in an interview said the government of South Sudan is helping the UPDF to ‘move in South Sudan’ because of the ‘geographically challenging’ terrain that the forces are operating in.
URN has also seen figures from the South Sudan budget that indicate a 9% increase in security spending to bring the percentage of the budget spent on security to 56%, representing 1.8billion dollars (4.7 trillion Uganda shillings).
The UPDF will continue to foot the wage bill of the soldiers in South Sudan. Nyamilepedia Editorial team’s attempts to get the UPDF spokesperson, Paddy Ankunda, to confirm the reports went unanswered.
UPDF entered South Sudan in December 2013 to help create a safe evacuation route for Ugandans. However, a status of forces agreement was reached between South Sudan and Uganda for the soldiers to also protect key government installations – which they are still doing.
More than 70% of the national army has defected to the opposition and the remaining loyal forces decry preferential treatment of their Ugandan counterparts.
The presidential guards battalion, Tiger, fiercely fought among themselves over salaries issues in March as some claim going for three to six months without pay. Similar incidents have been reported in other parts of the country.
South Sudan generate over 90% of its revenue from oil production and borrowings. Two-third of its oil production is allegedly affected by the conflict.
Salva Kiir hospital, donated by China, went off operations before its first patients recover last week. The hospital was shut down 5 days after its opening as the government fails to foot the fuel of the gravely needed initiative. Similar austerity measures are felt in Juba and other parts of the country.
South Sudan conflict erupted in December when a group of presidential guards, allegedly loyal to the country’s former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, resisted force disarmament from their colleagues at the order of the presidential guards commander, Gen. Marial Chanuong. Marial was the first to be sanctioned by the US government.