Uganda will withdraw its army, watch Juba closely

By JULIUS BARIGABA , The EastAfrican

UPDF sweeping Juba hospital in February (Photo: Kennedy Oryema)

UPDF sweeping Juba hospital in February (Photo: Kennedy Oryema)

August 29, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Uganda says it will honour the requirement of the latest peace agreement to withdraw its army from South Sudan territory, but on condition that the safety of its citizens is guaranteed.

Chief of Defence Forces Gen Edward Katumba Wamala told The EastAfrican that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces will comply with the directive in the agreement that all foreign forces in the war must leave South Sudan within 45 days.

Uganda’s exit and a replacement force are key to building confidence within the rebels [Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement – In Opposition] but Gen Katumba Wamala said UPDF’s withdrawal depends on the safety of Ugandans living and working in Juba and elsewhere within South Sudan.

“We will go with what’s in the agreement, so long as there is no danger to our citizens in Juba. Otherwise if there is any danger… we shall cross that bridge when we get there. But for now, what is in the agreement is what we will comply with,” he said in a phone interview on August 27.

Uganda’s army leader is voicing fears that Ugandans in South Sudan have been targeted by rebel leader Riek Machar’s group, especially after the conflict started and Uganda swiftly deployed its army to support President Kiir’s crumbling government.

Initially, Uganda sent in troops within hours of war breaking out in the South Sudan capital Juba mid December 2013, apparently to secure key installations like Juba Airport and other transport routes for safe evacuation of its citizens, but it soon became clear that the UPDF presence in South Sudan was beyond evacuation of stranded Ugandans.

Uganda’s expressed fear echo those of South Sudan President Kiir, who said that despite signing, he had “serious reservations” about how the mediation was conducted and some of the clauses in the peace deal.

President Kiir was forced to sign the agreement after the United Nations threatened to impose sanctions on him.

Among the major clauses of the agreement that could be the cause of Mr Kiir’s reservations is the fact that the UPDF — the biggest foreign force on South Sudan territory — which all along has been allied to his government, would be forced to pull out, along with the rest of the foreign armies and militia. The other militia include rebels from neighbouring Darfur region and the Nuba Mountains of Sudan.

The peace agreement also demands that no troops be allowed within a 25-kilometre radius of the capital Juba, a clause that amplifies the fears of Uganda considering that the majority of Ugandans in South Sudan work and live in Juba.

Only the presidential guard, police and troops protecting key infrastructure in the city are allowed to remain in the capital.

The onus is now on the replacement force comprising Rwandan, Ethiopian and Kenyan forces to allay fears of both President Kiir and Uganda.

It is assumed that trade between Kampala and Juba will regain its vibrancy as South Sudan is an important export market and source of foreign exchange for Uganda. It is estimated that Uganda has been losing $621.3 million annually since the war started.

But central to this trade is the security of the Nimule-Juba highway.

The army has hinted in the past that even in the event of its withdrawal from South Sudan, it would maintain a buffer force south of Nimule to safeguard the export route to Juba.

President Yoweri Museveni was one of the regional leaders alongside Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta who witnessed as Mr Kiir signing the agreement in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa On Wednesday.

President Museveni described the war between Mr Kiir’s government and the SPLM-IO as the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” in comparison with South Sudan’s long struggle for Independence.

But President Museveni’s comments echo the a sentiment expressed by his CDF Gen Katumba Wamala, that a young nation that chose this time to go to war, impacting on its own stability and the security of its neighbours, needs a security buffer.

~ The EastAfrican

11 comments

  • Uganda have to Stay,Uganda is welcome in South Sudan.

  • The intervention of Ugandan army was the call from South sudan president but not to protect Ugandan citizen in SS, if so we don’t want Ugandan citizen working in South sudan.

    • Thomas Lado

      The protection of Ugandan citizens in South Sudan is not the responsibility of UPDF. If is their obligation then the question is what is the work of SPLA.

  • I thing IGAD front line leaders would be clear over South Sudan crisis, if Uganda president play dirty game on South Sudan crisis should be up to those leaders to question the different languages for the withdrawal of Uganda forces fought a long side with Salva Kiir Government.
    They should make to much clearer if peace signed by two principal dosnit met the interest of Uganda they may allowed and act for stays of Uganda PDF.

    Last yesterday Uganda foreign minister announced that Uganda troops wouldn’t be withdrawn from South Sudan despite the signature of the peace accord .
    Than yesterday the defence minister announced the similarities saying that their troops shall be withdraw with the fact that full security should be provided to Uganda citizens working in South Sudan.
    In reality compromise peace deals dosnit have any provision over Uganda citizens working inside South Sudan. It would be batter to Uganda president to request IGAD plus mediations to put provision over Uganda citizens in compromised peace deals,than the SPLM IO would have delegates over this matter.
    What I want to say reconciliation peace deal of IGAD plus wouldn’t be the only document that might bring the peace in South Sudan, unless SPLM IO would conduct peace negotiation with Uganda government ,that should.be the only solution in South Sudan peace.

  • Those of Agumut, why you needs UPDF? You are still afraid of SPLA-IO?

    • Leave South Sudan if you want because news have emerged that your dementia leader is working around the clock to Unite Sudan. Unity with Sudan will be only Nuer,but we will chase you out from South Sudan,mark my words.

  • Karab

    KKK bye bye chickens. Uganda wanted to be superpower by invading south sudan with its army of chickens. Go & watch closely how your withdrawal will make it easy for south sudanese.

  • Kimang Ti Ma'nga

    This egocentric Ugandan chief of defence is just a punk, coz they have a hidden agenda to do what they have been doing in Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C), i.e. stealing D.R.C’s minerals mineral resources to enrich themselves, most of these Uganda’s army generals are clusters of thieves who have lost their reputation as army commanders, they have been repulse from D.R.C coz of stealing, now they want to extend their stealing spree to the republic of south Sudan by disgusting to be protecting their civilians whereas their motive is to loot south Sudan’s resources. These Ugandan citizens are not invited to south Sudan and even if they are invited, south Sudan is a sovereign state and the protection of Ugandan citizens living in south Sudan is upon the south Sudanese government, If the Ugandan government feels its citizens are not safe in south Sudan, then it should repatriate its citizens out of south Sudan but not to shamelessly keep its troops in south Sudan to loot the young country’s economy in the name of protecting its citizens. The current government of the sovereign state of south Sudan is very premature been headed by myopic leaders, the question is how would you as the head of family invite your neighbor to intervene to back you coz you are having problems within your family, that is irresponsibility of the highest order. These Ugandan arm forces headed by inborn thieves should not take advantage of the poor and weak leaders of south Sudan to loot the country’s economy, its high time for these high profile robbers to leave south Sudan coz they are just masqueraders.

  • Uganda is not going to withdrawn it forces in South Sudan because it is bilateral relation of South Sudan and Uganda as it is bilateral relation America and Japan, those who wish for the withdraw of Uganda are demanding for impossible that will not happen, because Uganda are staying here for the interest of their citizen who are making business here South Sudan, this time no Nuer be trust to be given Division to misuse Government hardware again for another rebellion as their Devil Riek looking for President Position which is unthinkable in the mind of South Sudanese tribal mind Leader

  • Withdrawal should take effect unconditionally for UPDF. South Sudan is a sovereign state and the safety of Ugandan citizens is the responsibility of South Sudan government. No government on earth, should occupy another sovereign nation simply because of the safety of its nationals. Is Uganda planning to annex South Sudan by keeping it’s troops at its border with us? We haven’t taken anything for granted.