The Commander of the UPDF Special Forces, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba was last week in South Sudan, he visited UPDF troops in both the capital Juba and Bor in Jonglei state.
Brigadier Muhoozi congratulated the troops for their effective work that has helped restore security in Juba and Bor.
The Commander Special Forces was accompanied by the Commander of the Gulu based 4th Division and the Joint Task Force in South Sudan, Brig. Kayanja Muhanga, senior officers and SPLA liaison officers.
The troops were in excellent spirits and were visibly excited by the visit of the UPDF Special Forces chief.
“I have come here to thank you for your great efforts in restoring security in the areas you are deployed in. Maintain your combat readiness and vigilance,” said Brig. Muhoozi while in Bor.
UPDF first deployed troops in Juba in December 2013 at the request of President Salva Kiir and the government of South Sudan after fighting broke out between loyalist forces and mutinous troops led by Riek Machar, who had been the Vice President of South Sudan.
The fighting soon threatened to degenerate into widespread massacres of innocent civilians, with armed fighters on both sides targeting rival communities. Hundreds of civilians caught in the fighting were killed and thousands more forced to flee their homes.
The UPDF Special Forces initially deployed in the capital Juba days after fighting between the rival troops started.
The fighting itself broke out on the night of December 15th, 2013.
The UPDF operation, codenamed “Kalongero,” successfully halted the fighting in the capital, and in many states e.g. the Equatorias and Jonglei state.
The UPDF advanced and captured the key town of Bor (capital of Jonglei state) on the 18th of January 2014.
Bor is an important gateway to Juba that commands the northern approaches to the capital. It is located 203 kilometers from South Sudan’s capital city.
The decisive battle for Bor was fought at Pariak some 80 kilometers from Juba.
At Pariak, the UPDF defeated a rebel ambush of thousands of fighters that extended over a distance of 6 kilometers.
Regionally mediated peace talks have been going on in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and despite several ceasefire agreements, fighting between the rival forces keeps breaking out. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, after decades of a disastrous civil war.
MPS ask UPDF to pull out of South Sudan
Parliament yesterday called for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from South Sudan.
The committee’s resolution, informed by a report by the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, said the cost of maintaining the troops in South Sudan is high urging government to continue engaging Igad to ensure a neutral force is deployed.
“This is because the continued presence of the UPDF in South Sudan is proving to be a very high cost to the Ugandan taxpayer,” the report said citing the monthly expenditure for the Uganda People’s Defence Force in South Sudan which is at Shs 7 billion.
Unlike the UPDF’s operations in Somalia under the African Union, which are financed by the AU, Uganda largely meets the costs of its operations in South Sudan.
Since December 2013, the government has so far spent about Shs119 billion to maintain the troops there.
Yet, Defence minister Crispus Kiyonga during the plenary, said the UPDF would remain in South Sudan.