The South Sudanese army (SPLA) during a farewell party on Tuesday marking the withdrawal of Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) from Jonglei State gave four cattle to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as a sign of appreciation for his support throughout South Sudan’s civil war.
Speaking at the party, Malual Ayom, the SPLA general in charge of the army’s sector covering Jonglei State, is quoted by Radio Tamazuj saying such gifts have a significant meaning in their Dinka culture.
“We only give the white cows on three occasions: when we are presenting our dowries in marriages, when the people gave President Nimeiri when he titled Jonglei as a province, and this is the third time we are giving cows, so it is a joyous moment today,” Ayom said.
General Ayom applauded the Ugandan troops for their “great support” for helping secure the country.
During the event, the Ugandan flag was lowered at their barracks and the SPLA flag was raised.
Ayom said the gifts of the two cows and two bulls are symbolic because the white represents the peace left behind by the departing foreign troops.
However, the commander also reiterated that there will be no military vacuum left by the UPDF departure, saying that SPLA forces are in control of the whole country and people must not panic that the UPDF have gone and the fighting will intensify again.
The farewell party was attended by several SPLA generals from Juba including Major General Malual Ayom Dor, Major General Majer Deng Kur, a delegate at the security talks in Addis Ababa, Brigadier General Malaak Ayuen, the director of communications in the SPLA headquarters, and Michael Majur Aleer, the commander of Division 8 in Jonglei State and many others.
The Jonglei State government delegation was led by Deputy Governor Baba Medan.
Museveni deployed his troops in South Sudan mid-December 2013 following an alleged coup by deputy president, Riek Machar.
UPDF helped secure key installations in the capital Juba allowing the evacuation of foreign nationals.
UPDF also fought alongside SPLA to expel Machar’s rebels from Bor town in Jonglei state.
Uganda airforce was also key in pushing rebels out of major towns during the civil war.