Members of Parliament yesterday subjected the country’s Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to a series of questions regarding the overstay of national troops in the neighbouring warring South Sudan.
The legislators were led by Rubaga South Member of Parliament, John Ken Lukyamuzi, who demanded to know when the army is returning from their foreign mission.
“This house should be concerned about the concerned stay of our troops in South Sudan,” Lukyamuzi pointed out.
The quiz was picked up by the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Secretary General and Soroti Woman MP, Alice Alaso, who expressed disatistifaction with Rugunda’s answers.
“I have a problem with the Prime ministers response on South Sudan, we want accountability,” she put it to the Premier.
In his unsatisfactory response, Rugunda said it was true that the government of South Sudan invited the Ugandan troops “to go there”.
“My answer to when our troops leave south Sudan doesn’t exclude the fact that the minister will present a statement,” he stated.
Rugunda then turned on inquirer saying, “instead of MP Luyamuzi asking when our troops will be back, he should be praising UPDF for the good work done.”
UPDF stay in South Sudan
Ugandan troops deployed to the capital Juba in December 2013 following an alleged coup on the government of President Salva Kiir by his former deputy, Riek Machar.
Uganda maintains that the troops (over 1000 in number now) deployed to secure key installations and help in the evacuation of foreigners as well as preventing the fall of a democratic government.
South Sudanese have since accused Kampala of interfering in their internal conflict especially when UPDF allegedly took sides fighting with SPLA against rebels in Bor, the capital of Jonglei State.
When the presence of UPDF sparked peace talks boycott by the rebel delegation, IGAD, the regional bloc mediating talks, and United States moved that Uganda withdraws her troops.
The Ugandan Parliament was also concerned since they were not consulted.
In February 2014, UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, said the army would withdraw in phases.
The status of the forces agreement that was signed between the Kiir Government and Uganda in Juba on 10th January 2014 is silent on the withdrawal of the Ugandan troops.
Barnaba Mariel Benjamin, the South Sudan Foreign Affairs minister, said the UPDF would remain in the country for as long as the hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony, as well as stabilise South Sudan.
In December 2014, President Yoweri Museveni speaking in Ethiopia, said “we did not go to South Sudan looking for jobs. The people of South Sudan and Uganda are brothers.”
UPDF trains to “attack rebels”
In March 2015, a report came up saying UPDF was undergoing intensive drills ready for looming battles.
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, who visited UPDF bases in Juba, Nisitu and Bor, found them undergoing intense training.
“I thank you for training hard because it is what makes UPDF fight easily,’’ Katumba is quoted praising UPDF for their readiness “incase they are attacked”.
Brig Kayanja Muhanga, the commander of Ugandan troops in South Sudan, said the security situation in all areas where UPDF is deployed was calm.
Rebel chief, Machar, says he doesn’t think UPDF have a genuine cause to die in South Sudan.
“I am appealing to Ugandans to stop President Museveni from interfering in the South Sudan internal conflict.”