News / Africa

Debate Continues Over Uganda Army Role in South Sudan Conflict

Uganda People's Defence Force troops ride through the streets of Bor, Jonglei State, on January 19 during South Sudan's month-long internal conflict.Uganda People's Defence Force troops ride through the streets of Bor, Jonglei State, on January 19 during South Sudan's month-long internal conflict.
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Uganda People's Defence Force troops ride through the streets of Bor, Jonglei State, on January 19 during South Sudan's month-long internal conflict.
Uganda People's Defence Force troops ride through the streets of Bor, Jonglei State, on January 19 during South Sudan's month-long internal conflict.
Reuben Kyama
Speakers at a Nairobi forum sponsored by the Rift Valley Institute expressed concern for the future of South Sudan following a ceasefire agreement brokered in Addis Ababa late last week. Participants also raised issues concerning the presence of Ugandan forces in the conflict.

The negotiations were held by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional body that was drawn into the brutal conflict following reports that Ugandan troops were battling alongside government forces loyal to President Silva Kiir.

Rev. James Ninrew of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan questions the neutrality of the peace process, if Uganda - a key member of the IGAD – takes sides in the conflict.

"As civil society organizations, we condemn negative intervention into the South Sudanese affairs because that is inviting further crisis rather than solving the problem," says Rev. Ninrew.

Is Uganda's military playng a neutral role?

"So for that, we are not for it. We are even questioning the role of Uganda or any other country from East Africa that is taking sides and also wants to sit at the table to mediate people.

Listen to debate over Uganda army intervention
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"Is IGAD the only body that can do that? If IGAD continues doing that, getting involved in the war and at the same time sitting at the table, I think the voice of the South Sudanese will say no."

But Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed, says Ugandan troops are deployed in South Sudan to provide security for the troubled country at vital state installations, such as airports. She said the IGAD negotiating team was credible enough to carry on with the peace talks between President Salvar Kiir and his former vice-president, Riek Machar.

"On the presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan, what I can tell you is this…when we had the IGAD summit here - if you look at the communiqué - the efforts to protect major installations such as airports were efforts that were welcome because we felt that they would provide an opportunity to take humanitarian assistance into South Sudan…

"That if those installations weren’t protected, it would be very difficult to convince flights into South Sudan. It was only when after these major installations were safe, they were secure that’s the only time planes could land."

Is the conflict ethnic or political?

Pundits say that violence sparked a political dispute between Mr. Kiir and his former deputy on Dec. 15 that escalated into full-scale ethnic conflict. 

Jok Madut Jok, co-founder of Sudd Institute, an independent research organization based in South Sudan, says the issues and the solution are complex. Jok said the parties need to "build into that final agreement a lot of mechanisms that will ensure crafting the country together …

"You need to give room to justice and accountability for acts of violence committed during this war. You need to address the injuries inflicted upon various ethnic communities so that as to repair the ethnic relations….

"That way people will invest in the idea that they are citizens of the nation not citizens of their communities. You need to build on the constitution so that the people’s voices and aspirations can be represented through it."

The world's newest nation may be fallign apart, cautioned Ms. Apuk Mayen, a South Sudanese diplomat working to increase women’s participation in formal peace processes.

"We are almost repeating the same mistakes that other African countries have made," she said. "I think we have failed because we fail to recognize that our tribes are actually political organizations. They have their own super structures.

"We have elements within our culture to govern ourselves, to mobilize ourselves to war. We are seeing this in some of the things happening."

If yoi feel threatened, she said, "you have mechanisms on how to protect and defend yourself.

"Unfortunately, in this construct of a state, it doesn’t work because we haven’t reconciled the state to this existing political organization that we have. I feel there are real questions that we need to ask ourselves."

The United Nations say thousands of people were killed in the fighting, and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes.

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Comments page of 2
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by: konbiel@yahoo.com from: juba
February 14, 2014 12:28 PM
Were was udpf went we were fighting against n.sudan udpf did not even give us chicken although udpf is they will al be defeat by Freedom armies

by: Big mike from: juba south sudan.
February 01, 2014 2:45 AM
South sudan is build based on mutual respect for it own citizen,According to the gratest man Dr John G he stated that he brought us a golden opportunity it up to us southerners to justify his statement.mind you these two tribe"Dont you think enough is enought for damage you brought upon your nation?We must learnt to say no to politician"

by: Chuol ker nyoak from: Ethiopia
January 30, 2014 3:39 AM
The two thing w/c we have to known is that 1 kiir is dactetor indeed due to this we looked careful.2 all nuers don't agree for peace b/c no one above them only god!!& we see nuer when machar come back from us in this week"

by: Anonymous
January 29, 2014 1:07 AM
Why Uganda troops fighting alongside with Salva Kiir gainst one tribe in S.Sudan. Why two government fighting against one tribe what the problem where are you the organs teams of humanity for equalities where is now the justice

by: ken from: kpla
January 28, 2014 11:07 PM
Pray for peace and God's will be done. We only hv one life to live.

by: Anonymous
January 28, 2014 4:06 PM
The coup myth has been debunked. Much as Machar may have a tainted past-just like many other leaders, it does not make his opposition to a rising dictatorship invalid. The Uganda miltiria involvement was selfish ambition by the Uganda regime. It was not meant to help S-Sudan in any genuine way-but just to prop up Kiir. IGAD needed to take a binding approach. Uganda junta is now not credible as mediator or neutral party. Also Uganda regime reigns rules by oppression , there is not much they can offer S-Sudan apart from a mercenary force to keep Kiir in power. UN/IGAD(collectively) need to stand ground and demand better governance in S Sudan and order the foreign militias/armies out-or else kick them out like UN/SADC did in DRC.

by: Aguot A Wany from: Juba, South Sudan
January 28, 2014 1:04 PM
The people of South Sudan must build peace , unity and move forward for the better South Sudan for all. When it come to involvement of Uganda military in South Sudan conflict that is important because the rebels leader has involved the foreign powers such as the United Nations, Khartoum government but failed when our mighty Army forces fought to the finish . I support dialogue within the people of South Sudan to sit down yo discuss what kind of a future do we want .,
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 28, 2014 3:57 PM
Your post is really an absurd comment. How can you begin to imagine that S-Sudan Kiir faction of SPLA and Musevei's Uganda militia are mightily armies? Sudan has not fired a single shot and UN does not fight wars without mandate. If you want a quick example of how easy it is for UN to win a military confrontation--check with M23 the group that was fully backed by Rwanda and Uganda "armies" or militia. So it is actually extreme ignorance that makes people like you post such rubbish. It also explains why Kiir follows Museveni and Kagame whims that he can actually win militarily and make peace for all! All Museveni and Kiir can achieve is another backward gun totting junta. I doubt that will happen though. South Sudan is not Uganda or Rwanda, there are many international actors that will reign in on the backward warlords and force them to act in more civilized way. The Museveni empire will not expand and Kiir is not brilliant enough to help South Sudan move to the next level. In a free and fair election, Kiir will be history pretty quickly! All that needs to happen is for Mr John Kerry, Ms Rice of USA and leaders in EU to order Museveni out and order Kiir to know his limits. DRC was a piece of cake after Obama told Kagame to stop his menace. South Sudan needs to form a consistent credible opposition, then get UN help with elections-then better leadership will come in! The Uganda , Rwanda models are the among the worst things that can happen to S-Sudan for long term good governance and transparent democracy

by: Aciro P'langoya from: Kampala
January 28, 2014 8:06 AM
The real questions we must ask ourselfs are the real issues for this diloque and possible reconcilliation;
a) Why should the army continue to be left in dominance by majorly two tribes Dinka and Nuer?
b) Why should the government employment be dominated by Dinka and Nuer yet other tribes exist as well in South Sudan.
c) Why should the involvement of Ugandan army be generalised by the Riak aligned loyalist as the stand of innocent Ugandans who were in Greater Upper Nile as a justification to butchering them.
d) Why should the government not lay off those above the service age from Government offices.
e) Why should we have the major Political Party be dominated by some few tribes and age without grass root mobilization.
f) Why should we always talk of the past Bush War as the sole factor for Independence, leaving behind the core final factor the referendum which is the ultimate last battle to Independence without a single bullet fired to force us to determine our destiny/ Independence.

Without adressing those questions, our beloved bleeding country will always remain with wounds that will keep bleeding due to manipulation by some few greedy elements who have the amnitions and money at their disposal.

by: wani from: yei
January 28, 2014 2:36 AM
Machar would have not lead rebelion first then to wait for justic for de masacar in juba. and have credit in caming election.i blam machar for not being petient as a lesder.l can tell machar thet is fighting 63 tribes.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 28, 2014 10:29 AM
63 tribes of South Sudan, Uganda's UPDF with its Air Force, Sudan's rebels of JEM, SPLM-N from Blue Nile and others. Dr. Machar should be commended for standing up to Kiir's growing authoritarianism and regional dictator and trouble maker Museveni

by: Daniel deng manyok from: United states of america
January 28, 2014 12:11 AM
My to south sudanese,who
Left sudan to ethiopia
To found war for freedol
If we forgot 21years war
God blaming us because we all
Forgetting our visions'this is
My song to south sudanese
The time we were in the bush
We used to shared gerbeneye'
Of water,cups of corns or
Maize,smallest meats or anykind
Of things we got during the
Our bad time of leberation
We found for our children,
To getting their freedom to
Highest education,not only
Lable of high school or drop
Out,our ladies to have freedom
Of going to public,with any
Clothes'our soilders to getting
To protecting our borders'
Not only from kartoum but
From uganda'kenya'ethiopia
And etc,please can we thinklng
About the birthday of our
Country south sudan,instay
Of finishing for no reasons
i need to going to juba again
Because we need to consider
Before different peopl,some
People are blaming themselves
To lived in war for long now
Nobody will come from
Saving our lives except us.
let us talk,i went to ethiopia 1987,
I have ideas to giving about
21years but i donot loving
to seeing those picture of
Our people trees it making
Me crying'because i been
There long time.
There hope to coming
Back normals,but we need
To supporting our soilders'and
Let know their jobs to protect
Borders.
Iam one of youngmen,whose
Went bush to have freedom.
Thank you,the spiritual'of
Our people who were died
During will bring the truth
To south sudan,their childrens
Suffer again,no paid for their
But our flag for generation
To come.splm/spla'redarmy

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