January 21, 2014 (KAMPALA) – Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have strongly supported Uganda’s military role in neighbouring South Sudan, saying its involvement in the conflict would prevent it from further escalation.
- UPDF representative, Maj Gen Julius Oketta, speaks during the special session to discuss the deployment of UPDF soldiers in South Sudan (Daily Monitor)
The speaker of the EALA, said at the assembly opening session in Kampala, Uganda that it was necessary to deploy troops in the new nation to avoid the fighting from degenerating.
“The deployment was timely and is timely. Uganda has the obligation to prevent the conflict to degenerate further”, said Margaret Ziwa, adding that the deployment was in line with what Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries reportedly agreed upon during last month’s meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Violence erupted in the South Sudanese capital in mid-December last year and later spread to other key towns, killing in excess of 1,000 people and displacing nearly 500,000 in a month.
The ongoing instability, observers say, could dominate the EALA sessions as regional lawmakers seek remedies to the conflict that nearly plunged the new nation into civil war.
SUPPORT FROM LAWMAKERS
A week ago, Ugandan lawmakers at a special session also supported its government’s decision to deploy the national army (UPDF) in South Sudan, despite the United Nations Security Council warnings against external interventions that could exacerbate the new nation’s conflict.
The Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni also appointed Col. Kayanja Muhanga as the overall commander of UPDF operations in the neighbouring country, amidst protests from South Sudanese rebels led by its former vice-president Riek Machar.
But Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Ugandan army chief said Machar should not use UPDF presence in South Sudan as a mechanism to snub the ongoing dialogue with president Salva Kiir’s government.
“Let Riek Machar not use UPDF presence in South Sudan to snub dialogue”, Wamala tweeted on Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson of the UPDF, also tweeted on Tuesday that it forces do not intend to stay in South Sudan for long, further revealing that only 9 UPDF soldiers died in a rebel ambush at Gemeza a week ago.