December 30, 2013 (JUBA) – Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said on Monday that regional leaders would join hands against forces allied to South Sudan’s ex-vice president Riek Machar, if he fails to honour last week’s ceasefire agreement.
- Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni (L) and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir (AFP/Getty)
Museveni, who held a closed-door meeting with his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, said the region would “defeat Machar” to avert further escalation of violence in the new nation.
“We gave him [Machar] four days and [agreed that] if he doesn’t [comply with the agreement], then we shall have to go for him. That is what we agreed on”, the Ugandan leader told reporters in Juba.
He did not, however, elaborate on how the region intends to quell down the rebellion, which has quickly spread to the country’s key towns.
Museveni, a close ally of Kiir, also admitted that he sent Ugandan troops to “help restore hope” in South Sudan, confirming his military’s involvement in the conflict.
On Friday, Machar told Sudan Tribune that a Ugandan MiG-29 bombed rebel-held positions around Bor, before they were retaken by forces loyal to Kiir. He condemned the attack, saying Uganda was interfering into South Sudan’s internal matters.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional leaders have suggested dialogue as the only way to resolve the country’s conflict, which has now claimed more than 1,000 lives and left nearly 60,000 people homeless.
South Sudan’s presidential spokesperson said government had accepted in principle to cease hostilities and implement all that was recommended by the regional leaders.
“President Museveni’s visit is to come and hear for himself following the visit of the other African leaders and the subsequent meeting of the IGAD member countries in Nairobi", Ateny Wek Ateny told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
"As the government, the president affirmed to him [Museveni] the readiness to fully implement what the IGAD member countries had recommended as the way to resolve the conflict," he added.
Ateny accused Machar and his forces of attacking South Sudan army (SPLA) positions, contrary to provisions of the ceasefire deal reached in Nairobi, last week.
The country’s cabinet affairs minister said government had indeed complied with the suggestions and recommendations made by the international community.
“The government accepted in principle to do four things. First, we accepted to stop hostilities as [a] priority. We also accepted to release political detainees; some of them have already been released. Thirdly, we accepted and commit ourselves to peaceful dialogue without preconditions. The fourth one is to provide access to all areas for humanitarian assistances and operations", said Martin Elia Lomuro.
"As government, we have done almost everything because we value the lives of our people," he stressed.
Diplomats and the international community view dialogue as the only way of resolving the worst-ever outbreak of conflict in the country since its independence in July 2011.
It now remains unclear what trend the conflict was likely to take should regional leaders opt for military actions against Machar-led forces.