June 22, 2014 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese army (SPLA) general on Sunday made a rare admission of the preferential treatment accorded to the Uganda troops (UPDF) fighting alongside the former, describing it as a “very expensive” military operation to maintain.
- Troops from the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) drive a tank through the streets of Jonglei state capital Bor on 19 January 2014 after being deployed to South Sudan following the eruption of violence in mid-December last year (AP)
“The public has been made to believe [that] the ministry of defence or the command is the one that does not want to pay the soldiers on time. This is the impression of the message you get around in the public discourse. Yes, the public is right because there is no information about the details of the security cooperation agreement which has been signed with the government of Uganda, a high level military officer who part of the command of the government troops”, said the officer who preferred anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.
“The cause of the delay of the payment is something even known by the president”, he added.
The army officer also disclosed that Ugandan troops were getting daily allowances paid once at the end of the month from the budget, resulting into delay in payment of the South Sudanese troops and purchase of supplies.
“There was separate budget for this operation. All the requirements for their upkeep in the country, like transport and maintenance of the weapons and the vehicles and equipment as well as military supplies like food, fuel and other operational expenses is shouldered by the government from our budget", he told Sudan Tribune.
"This is a very expensive operation, which I think the government will not sustain”, he added.
The army official further expressed disappointments with the delay in the payment and that the status of forces agreement signed between Uganda and South Sudan "wasn’t worth anything" and was "even harmful because it creates a false sense of security to the country."
South Sudan’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk admitted in February that his government was picking the bills of UPDF’s offensive against Riek Machar-led rebels, contradicting accounts in Kampala that Uganda meets the costs.
Uganda deployed a contingent of its army in the new nation days after violence broke out in its capital, Juba, between members of the presidential guards. The conflict later spread to South Sudan’s Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states killing thousands with over a million displaced.
In March, however, East African regional heads of states at a summit held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, authorised the prompt deployment of a Protection and Deterrent Force (PDF) from the region to help restore peace and stability in the world’s youngest nation.