February 21, 2014 (KAMPALA) – The Ugandan cabinet has approved Shs120 billion as the supplementary budget to finance its army (UPDF) operations in neighbouring South Sudan.
- General Katumba Wamala, of the UPDF, shakes hands with a soldier during a visit to his troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), January 9, 2013. (Reuters/Tobin Jones/AU-UN IST Photo/Handout)
The country’s defence ministry, according to Daily Monitor newspaper, had initially requested for Shs.150bn as supplementary budget to fund it military’s involvement in the over two-month conflict.
“It is true we have a request for supplementary budget from the ministry of Defence for emergency operations,” Jim Mugunga, Uganda’s Finance ministry spokesman was quoted saying, adding, “The approval process will follow laid down procedures which include both Cabinet and parliamentary approval.”
The approval of the supplementary budget seems comes less than a week after South Sudan’s defence minister revealed that his government was paying for UPDF operations on its territory.
“It is the government of South Sudan footing the bill of the operation which started officially on December 23, last year when a fierce fighting broke out in Juba and entered to other towns,” defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Eye Radio’s Sundown show.
"We are funding all the activities of UPDF [Uganda Peoples Defense Forces] and SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] in our territory," he added.
STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT
Last month, South Sudan and Uganda signed a Status of Forces Agreement, which mandated Uganda’s military involvement in the new nation’s conflict.
But while Kampala may have helped restore stability in South Sudan, its military involvement in the conflict would be at its own costs, according to the agreement obtained by Sudan Tribune.
“Member of visiting forces shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the sending state’s law and courts in respect of any disciplinary or criminal offences which may be committed by them in the territory of the host state,” partly reads the seven-paged agreement.
Uganda, further stipulates the agreement, would be tasked with compensating any third party claims emerging from its soldiers’ involvement in the conflict and both armies would not be required to make claims of losses incurred during the war.
UGANDAN LAWMAKER REACTS
Uganda MP Peter Emmanuel Eriaku, the vice chairman of Parliament’s defence committee said they expect the defence minister in parliament to present figures on Uganda’s expenditure to-date on the South Sudan mission and a breakdown of the proposed supplementary budget.
“As per the Status of Forces Agreement the minister of defence [Chrispus Kiyonga] tabled before us, it is Uganda footing [UPDF’s] bill,” he told Daily Monitor, adding, “Now for him [South Sudan Defence minister] to say they are the ones footing the bill, I don’t understand.”
The lawmaker further said his committee had instructed ministry of Defence officials to modify the Status of Forces Agreement, more so its proposal for the two countries to share the costs.