Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ugandans may have been duped over agreement with SPLM

A Ugandan soldier looks worried as he's deployed in no man's land in South Sudan.
A Ugandan soldier looks worried as he’s deployed in no man’s land in South Sudan.
By Nkonge I Ismail in Kampala
Just a few days after the Ugandan parliament moved a motion supporting the sending of Ugandan troops to the embattled youngest country in the world, South Sudan, doubts are being raised as to the relevance and status of the agreement between Uganda and South Sudan to deploy Ugandan troops to the embattled new country.
The London Evening Post has learned that while the agreement presented to parliament by Uganda’s Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga clearly shows he signed it on behalf of the Ugandan government, there is no sign that Dr Kiyonga’s counterpart, Kuol Manyang Juuk, put pen to paper on the same agreement. Speaking to The London Evening Post, the Vice Chairman of the country’s parliamentary committee on defence, Mr Muwanga Kivumbi said the agreement presented to the House last week by Dr Kiyonga is full of loopholes whereby parliament is still in the dark as to who signed the agreement on behalf of South Sudan.
The discrepancy has forced parliament to recall Dr Kiyonga to explain to the parliamentary committee on defence why South Sudan’s signature doesn’t appear on the agreement. Dr Kiyonga has now been summoned once more to appear before the committee next Wednesday to explain the discrepancies and also state exactly what the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) is doing in South Sudan.
Dr Kiyonga’s summons come a day after his boss, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni threw the spanner in the works when he admitted Wednesday that the UPDF was actually fighting rebel troops loyal to former South Sudan President Riek Machar. Kivumbi said though bilaterally Uganda is safe, but having the UPDF in South Sudan fighting the very country that has asked Ugandan for assistance, could be rather tricky. Troops loyal to Dr Machar have already accused Uganda of using helicopter gunships to bombard areas under the control of the rebels.
While attending a meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Wednesday, President Museveni boasted his army had bombed and captured rebel-held positions resulting in heavy losses ‘to the rebels’ and some deaths among the Ugandan army. Ugandan officials had previously denied taking any part in combat, insisting their troops were evacuating stranded Ugandans and helping protect the airport and the presidential palace in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
The committee members, most especially opposition members of parliament led by the Forum for Democratic Change’s Semujju Nganda, wondered at the degree of negligence used to sign the agreement which doesn’t cater for casualties, loss of soldiers on the mission and even equipment. He said Ugandan citizens are set to pay for problems of another country. He told the committee that Uganda always gets onto wars only to lose financially. He gave an example of when Tanzania helped fight Idi Amin in 1979. “Up to today Uganda is paying debts to Tanzania even when the agreement is not known to Ugandans.
In the meantime, South Sudan’s rebels have demanded that Uganda stop supporting government forces as a condition for signing a ceasefire to end fighting that has riven Africa’s youngest nation, a spokesman said on Thursday. Kampala’s military involvement has annoyed Ethiopia, which is hosting peace talks, and raised worries that it could expand a conflict that, according to one independent estimate, may have killed up to 10,000 people since it erupted in mid-December. Peace talks aimed at ending the fighting between Kiir’s forces and supporters of Riek Machar, who was sacked as vice president in July, are being sponsored by the regional African body IGAD in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“IGAD has our complaint. The foreign troops have complicated the conflict so I think it’s also a matter of common sense for them to withdraw,” said Mabior Garang, a spokesman for Machar’s delegation attending the Addis Ababa talks. “These are sticking points that the government does not want to move away from,” he said. A member of Kiir’s delegation, who declined to be named, said: “We have a military pact with Uganda. The status of our cooperation should only be discussed among the two governments, not with a rebel group.”
The two sides’ delegations have so far made no obvious sign of progress towards a ceasefire deal. The Kiir government has previously rejected rebel demands that 11 detained politicians allied to Machar be released before a ceasefire is signed. Juba insists they must be investigated. The rebels have since said that freeing detainees is not a precondition for a ceasefire. They are now focusing on Uganda’s role and have also demanded the end of a state of emergency imposed by Kiir on the strategic regions of Jonglei state and the oil producing states of Upper Nile and Unity.
Uganda backed the SPLA, now led by Kiir, during the South’s years of war with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. South Sudan declared independence in 2011, after a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum. Machar has accused Uganda of staging air strikes against his supporters. Museveni has threatened Machar with defeat if he does not accept a ceasefire. He has also said Machar should withdraw “to a remote area of the country to avoid attack and to start talks unconditionally so as to resolve the problem quickly”.
Why South Sudan fighting is bad news for Uganda
South Sudan president Salva Kiir (R) and his former deputy Riek Machar at t
South Sudan president Salva Kiir (R) and his former deputy Riek Machar at the country’s independence celebrations. Kiir has blamed Machar for the current war in the country, saying he was attempting a coup. Photo by Agencies
By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi

Posted Sunday, December 22 2013 at 02:00
In Summary
Analysts say, if the conflict in the newly independent state escalates, Uganda could register both human and material loss.
Juba- The fears that greeted the independence of the new republic of South Sudan in July 2011 – that the country could descend into chaos partly due to friction between the two major ethnic groups – has become a reality in the last one week since fighting broke out in the capital Juba.
What President Salva Kiir’s government initially called a coup attempt by a group led by his main rival and former vice president, Mr Riek Machar, quickly spread to other parts of the country, with the key town of Bor – 200km from Juba – falling to the mutineers.
The US and Britain evacuated their nationals and Uganda sent rescue troops to Juba to facilitate the evacuation of its citizens and other nationals which started earlier in the week as the situation threatens to run out of control.
Danger of simmering conflict
The Uganda government statement indicated that Mr Henry Okello Oryem, the state minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of International Affairs, had travelled to Juba as part of an African Union ministerial team “to engage the South Sudan authorities in finding a political solution to the problem”.
Questions may be posed as to whether the most potent delegation to get the rivalling groups in South Sudan to talk should be composed of foreign ministers alone – in Uganda’s case a state minister.
Observers say that the confrontation always seemed imminent since July when President Kiir fired his entire cabinet, including vice president Machar.
The fact that half a year had passed since Mr Kiir fired the cabinet but no major effort had been made to mediate between the rival sides, calls into question the role of key partner states, particularly Uganda and the other countries of the East African Community (EAC).
South Sudan has shown intention to join the EAC and majority of the partner states welcomed it, with Mr Kiir attending some key meetings of the bloc.
Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the president of Ugandan opposition party FDC, thinks the EAC states need to “move in fast enough so that the situation does not escalate”.
The EAC needs to craft a common position on how they can help South Sudan,” says Gen Muntu, arguing that the infant country should be guided to learn from history as it manages the early years of independence.

Gen Muntu also says the EAC must be honest. “The EAC countries should engage South Sudan not on the basis of how to outmanoeuvre one another for influence but to genuinely seek to guide the country on how to move forward,” he said.
Uganda and Kenya are thought to be jostling for influence over South Sudan, particularly concerning key partnerships and contracts like the joint construction of an oil refinery.

Uganda wanted to partner with South Sudan to build a refinery but it was outdone by Kenya, with the planned refinery at Lamu expected to handle the crude oil from South Sudan.
Implications of the war
Reports indicate that President Museveni has been in contact with Mr Kiir since the fighting broke out but details on whether the engagements were making any breakthrough were scanty by the time of writing this report.
Uganda is among the principal stakeholders in the South Sudan situation, for should the young country descend into chaos, Uganda will have another front of its border to watch closely.
The tense situation in Eastern DR Congo is a drain on the Ugandan security, and therefore finances, yet a contingent of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces is still active in Somalia.
An unstable South Sudan could offer sanctuary to rebel groups, like the example of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) shows.
South Sudan was viewed as a buffer between Uganda and Sudan following the decades-long conflict between the two countries in which Uganda backed the Sudanese Liberation Movement which won the
independence of South Sudan while Sudan backed the LRA.
If, as it is feared, the country is torn apart by ethnic wrangles or bad politics, decades of attempts for independence from Sudan – at great material and human cost – will have been wasted. And should this happen, Uganda will be among the big losers.
History of civil wars in South Sudan
As Sudan prepared to gain independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956, southern leaders accused the new authorities in Khartoum of backing out of promises to create a federal system, and of trying to impose an Islamic and Arabic identity.
In 1955, southern army officers mutinied, sparking off a civil war between the south, led by the Anya Nya guerrilla movement, and the Sudanese government. The conflict only ended when the Addis Ababa peace agreement of 1972 accorded the south a measure of autonomy.
But, in 1983, the south, led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its armed wing, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), again rose in rebellion when the Sudanese government cancelled the autonomy arrangements.
The conflict finally ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, under which the south was granted regional autonomy along with guaranteed representation in a national power-sharing government. The agreement also provided for a referendum in the south on independence in 2011, in which 99 per cent of southern Sudanese voted to split from Sudan.


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