Uganda People’s Defence Force’s armed combat mission in South Sudan has sparked outrage among Ugandans who have expressed displeasure at the decision taken by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Chimpreports survey has revealed.
January 26, 2014[Kampala] — Philip Ojok, a businessman who used to sell fruits in Yei town of South Sudan, expressed his heartfelt sympathy for the Ugandan force saying, that he is worried that the UPDF boys may never have a chance of returning to their home country.
“I’m very sure if Bashir and Ethiopia enter the battle, it will be so hard for the UPDF boys to survive; we should only expect a few to come back, because we have no capacity to defeat them,” he said.
Ojok further noted that the decision which was taken by government to deploy troops to South Sudan was uncalled for and should be regrettable to all Ugandans.
“We should all know that the agreement signed with Salva Kiir which culminated into the sending of our forces, doesn’t indicate that Ugandan soldiers will be compensated in case of any losses.
“Where does UPDF want the forces against Salva Kiir to go; they are also nationals whose grievances must be hard other than being pushed out of their country by an external force.”
“I believe that the forces which are against Salva Kiir are South Sudanese who are fighting for their rights, who have no other promised land to live in but fight until their rights are achieved.”
“The presence of the UPDF is now instead fuelling the war because if there were no foreign forces in South Sudan, the two parties would have already reconciled.”
“The claim that the UPDF was invited by Salva Kiir is not enough because one man is not the entire South Sudan and they therefore, needed the consent of the local people.”
Meddie, a boda boda cyclist along Kampala road, said the idea wasn’t right; “if people are demanding for something and you instead decide to just kick them out, that is a poor response to the aggrieved party”.
“UPDF’s going to South Sudan would have been for the purpose of fostering negotiations but not fighting for only one group against the other.”
“Though Salva Kiir requested for help from Uganda, this was a wrong move on his side because this was a clear indication that he wasn’t interested in peace talks but rather continue torturing the aggrieved party.”
Peter Garikoro, a boda boda cyclist who has just returned from South Sudan, observed that in the first place, UPDF’s presence in South Sudan which was initially to evacuate Ugandans was called for but the combat mission was unnecessary.
Garikoro said the agreement that was signed between UPDF and Salva Kiir is very unfair since it doesn’t indicate where Ugandans are benefiting from their involvement in a war that is not about protecting and safeguarding its borders. ”
They would have signed an agreement like those that are always made when our forces are going to fight for foreign nations which show how the losses will be compensated.” ”
The very agreement that is claimed to have been signed is still under question before parliament which doesn’t indicate the one who signed on behalf of South Sudan; the families of Ugandan soldiers are not aware of how they will be compensated if at all their beloved lose their lives.”
“Uganda has a hidden agenda; why did they rush to involve themselves in a combat mission? Kenya and America have forces in South Sudan but none of them is involved in a combat mission.”
“Salva Kiir requesting Museveni to come over and fight his fellow men with whom he fought to break away from the Arab-dominated north yet Museveni is still surrounded by his men from the bush, is an expression of “a wrong guy”.
” He added that people should understand that the war in S. Sudan is not about to end “since it is tribal” and being fought by men who are ready and willing to fight until they see the leader they support in power.
“Today, it is the Neur dominantly fighting but if at all they capture power, the other tribes will also rise up desiring to have a leader of their tribe.”
“The presence of UPDF is instead increasing hatred against Ugandans, when we were there, the Sudanese used to tell us that ‘Ugandans kul batali’ meaning that all Ugandans are just problems claiming, that we are the cause of all the problems in our country.”
“We were beaten up, imprisoned but some of us were fortunate enough to come back. Some of our friends were killed due to the hatred that the Sudanese posses against us.”
According to Samuel Mutegeka, an Airtime Vendor along Kampala road, UPDF belongs to Uganda and not to Salva Kiir; “our forces would have just remained guarding our boundaries and continued with the first mission of evacuating Ugandans from the war-torn country.”
“I’m worried because we are losing a lot of money in this battle where Ugandans are not even going to be compensated at the end of the day.”
Deo Ssemakula, another boda boda rider in Kampala observes thus: “I would be in support of UPDF’s presence in the war-torn country if the force had gone without first taking sides.”
“This creates a very hard moment for Ugandans who are still living in S. Sudan and those planning to go and conduct business in future because the Sudanese in support of Machar will look at them as enemies and hence torture them.”
“If our forces had remained neutral, there wouldn’t have been any problems; we won’t benefit from their contribution yet the army is now calling for a supplementary budget to support a war that is not our own.”
“It grieves me to learn that my fellow Ugandans fighting in the embattled country will not be compensated for their efforts.”
Shaibu Tamale, a trader in St. Balikuddembe market says that “the government should withdraw UPDF troops because the South Sudan war won’t be ended by a military defeat”.
“This is wastage of money and resources yet the country has some other problems that need to be addressed first.”
Tinah Kalule, a trader in Owino is confident that “our soldiers are dying for no reason and it was not in order for a country like Uganda to take sides in this war”.
Gloria Naityo, a vendor at Nakivubo channel, says that the UPDF soldiers should be withdrawn from South Sudan immediately, because there is no reason as to why they should stay there and die.
The Chairman Owino market, Joseph Lwanga, says that “if the major aim for taking our soldiers is to rescue the traders, then that is okay but they should not help in fighting because any time feelings of revenge will come up”.
Only one Ugandan, among those we interviewed, thinks the deployment was right:
Jonathan Douglas Kakembo, a psychologist working with Dynamic Counselling and Development agency, said the presence of UPDF in S. Sudan will in the long run be appreciated by everybody around the globe after peace has been restored.
“The people in S. Sudan are also human beings who don’t deserve to shed their innocent blood.”
“Our forces are in the embattled country to ensure that peace is restored; there should be no fear of Ugandans being hated by the other fighting group because in any way, this is expected but it will not last for a long time.”
“We should all understand that South Sudan is a baby country that still needs to be nurtured and attended to, they need UPDF’s Support to foster peace in their country.”