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South Sudan, Uganda deny deployment of additional troops

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February 10, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Juba and Kampala denied claims by South Sudanese rebels about the deployment of additional Ugandan troops to the war ravaged east African nation.

The SPLM in Opposition faction on Monday alleged that Uganda deployed an additional 7,000 troops in South Sudan over the weekend.

However, South Sudanese defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk on Tuesday dismissed the reports as unfounded.

“The report about 7,000 [troops] is not correct,” Juuk told the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

“Ugandan forces have not been increased. There are two battalions… in Juba and Bor,” he added.

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) spokesman Col. Paddy Ankunda similarly dismissed the allegations.

“It’s not true that Uganda has sent troops to South Sudan,” he said. “If there was such a movement, these are convoys that could not easily be hidden.”

Rebel officials on Monday said Uganda’s decision to expand its military involvement in South Sudan would seriously affect ongoing efforts to strike a final deal.

South Sudan’s, president, Salva Kiir, and opposition leader Riek Machar last week signed a new agreement on a power-sharing formula as part of a renewed commitment to end hostilities.

Leaders of the two warring SPLM factions are due to resume negotiations on 19 February in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in a bid to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end the 14-month-long conflict.

IGAD has threatened to take actions against both parties should the conflicting parties fail to bring lasting solution to the political crises during the next round of peace talks.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni sent more than 3,000 troops to South Sudan, days after the youngest nation slide into conflict following political dispute within the ruling SPLM party.

The rebels further said they were planning to file a complaint to the regional bloc, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the two SPLM rivals.

The conflict which erupted in late 2013 has killed tens of thousands and displaced nearly two million people.

(ST)

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