Saleh invites Machar as UPDF pullout nears

President Yoweri Salva Kiir greeting Gen. Salim Saleh in State House Entebbe to day on 16th/ Novermber 2014

President Yoweri Salva Kiir greeting Gen. Salim Saleh in State House Entebbe to day on 16th/ Novermber 2014

Great Lakes Region security guru, President Yoweri Museveni, was in the warring South Sudan on Wednesday.

Museveni was in Juba yesterday to witness South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, sign a peace agreement earlier signed by his rival, Riek Machar.

Machar in a recording accused Kampala of trying to change the peace terms which IGAD further restored before the recent Ethiopia summit.

With the Kampala proposed terms dropped, Machar signed the agreement willingly which Kiir refused to sign asking for 15 days to consult.

The international community threatened sanctions forcing Kiir to sign the document.

While signing yesterday, Kiir said he still had reservations arising from power sharing and the demilitarisation of the capital Juba that will cost him his private army and bodyguards.

The US in a stamen said it doesn’t recognise Kiir’s reservation and that the deal is final.

In statement released by Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, US said: “We will work with our international partners to sideline those who stand in the way of peace, drawing upon the full range of our multilateral and bilateral tools.”

US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, went a step further, saying that if Kiir acted on his reservations and reneged on the deal, the US had proposed a UN arms embargo and more sanctions from 6 September unless the pact was signed by the 15-day deadline given to Kiir last week.


President Kiir shakes hands with President Museveni after signing the IGAD brokered peace deal backed by the African Union, UN and the Troika

A Joint Statement by European commission also has hallmarks of seriousness “Today, President Kiir decided to sign the peace agreement endorsed by other South Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa on 17 August 2015.”

“A ceasefire must come into place and all obstacles to full and unhindered humanitarian access must be removed immediately. A strong monitoring body with regional, international and South Sudanese civil society representation is vital to ensure that the agreement is respected by all stakeholders.”

“Accountability and transparency will be central to the way forward for South Sudan. The EU will continue to stand by the South Sudanese people during the transitional process and appeals to the political leaders of South Sudan to rise to their responsibilities, end the suffering of the South Sudanese people, account for the atrocities targeted at civilians and children and prevent an even greater humanitarian tragedy from unfolding,” said the EU statement.

In the end, Kiir had to relent to the pressures and sign the peace deal aimed at ending a 20-month conflict at the ceremony, Kiir said he had faced intimidation during the peace process.

UPDF to pull-out

According to the deal, foreign forces [including UPDF] must pull out of South Sudan after a period of 45 days.

Museveni’s brother, Gen Salim Saleh, has now invited a delegation of the SPLM-IO Riek Machar faction to a meeting in Uganda.

Saleh is the presidential advisor on military matters and critics are sceptical of his motives to invite Machar at this time that Ugandan troops are supposed to be leaving South Sudan.

While deploying the troops in December 2013, Museveni said he was preventing the overthrow of an elected government and wanted to secure key installations to evacuate foreigners.

A debate raged in parliament as to why legislators had not been consulted but the president insisted Kiir wrote to him for military aid.

Last year, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, the army spokesperson, amidst increased pressure from the United States asking Uganda to withdrawal its troops from South Sudan, said the army would pull out phase by phase.

The status of the forces agreement that was signed between Juba and Kampala 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 will remain in the country for as long as the hunt for Joseph Kony and stabilization of South Sudan is not complete.

Uganda has over 1000 troops in south Sudan currently fighting alongside the government forces in Bor.

Ugandan troops are majorly co-coordinating air raids and surveillance of operations for the SPLA forces.

Machar used the presence of the UPDF forces in the country to boycott Addis Ababa talks and made sure it’s withdraw was a key element among the peace terms.

His commanders complained on several occasions being trounced and defeated by UPDF air raids.

Speaking on the signing ceremony, Museveni personally advised Kiir to get rid of foreign forces directing attention to UN troops yet, according to Machar, UPDF is also a foreign force.

Peace delegation

In a letter dated August 23, and seen by Insider, rebel chief addresses Saleh as the Patron of the Uganda Peace Support Team.


Machar’s letter to Saleh

“I am writing to inform your excellency that we are dispatching to Uganda a peace delegation led by Gen Alfred Ladu Gore, deputy chairman and deputy commander-in-chief of SPLM/SPLA to interact with Ugandan authorities on the Peace Agreement and to disseminate the said agreement amongst south Sudanese refugees in Uganda.

The letter is signed by Riek Machar, chairman and commander-in-chief of SPLM/SPLA.

The real question, according to observers, is now on the withdraw of Ugandan troops.

A meeting between Saleh and the deputy commander-in-chief Gore is expected to rotate on that matter.

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