News / Africa

Uganda Defense Minister to Appear Before Parliament

Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda, settle in the village of Ochaya, Jan. 7, 2013.
Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda, settle in the village of Ochaya, Jan. 7, 2013.
Peter Clottey
Uganda’s parliament has summoned the defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, to appear before the defense and internal affairs committee on Thursday to explain the deployment of Ugandan troops to neighboring South Sudan.

Frederick Mbagadhi Nkayi, a leading member of the parliamentary committee, expressed support for the deployment but also said the legislative body has to examine the rationale behind the deployment of the troops to South Sudan. 

Speaking to VOA, Nkayi says he supports the government’s actions.

“We are supposed to be interacting with the minister of defense, of course, over concerns of our forces having gone to South Sudan,” said Nkayi. “I feel extremely happy that our forces moved very fast to intervene in this conflict. To us, as a nation and stakeholders in the affairs of our country, we are so much interested in the safety of our people.”

Some legislators objected to the presidential initiative. They accused President Yoweri Museveni of contravening the constitution by failing to seek parliamentary approval before deploying troops from the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to South Sudan to evacuate Ugandan citizens trapped there due to the conflict.

Nkayi disagrees with the president's critics. “Parliament was in recess and the situation on the ground calls for an immediate intervention. Of course, what I would have [done] is to secure the passage of our people, then possibly convene parliament and ratify whatever action would have taken place,” said Nkayi.

“If the UPDF had not moved very swiftly to create safe passage for our people, then that means we would have lost thousands of them.”

Uganda foreign ministry spokesman Fred Opolot told VOA that the UPDF troops are in South Sudan to protect and evacuate citizens. “Our major concern is to ensure that (our citizens) are safe, and if not, they are evacuated. So that process is ongoing,” said Opolot.

“Uganda People’s Defense Forces (are) in Juba to secure the airport in order to ensure that the evacuation process goes very smoothly.”

But some parliamentarians say there have been reports that the UPDF troops are involved in South Sudan’s conflict in spite of the (Ugandan) government’s insistence that the soldiers are there to secure the airport, protect and evacuate citizens.

South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar accused the UPDF of supporting troops loyal to President Salva Kiir in the conflict. Kampala denies the charge.

Nkayi says the Ugandan troops are there help the peace process. “We do believe that UPDF is supposed to be playing a neutral role to ensure that the warring factions can come on a round table and talk peace,” said Nkayi.

He says the defense minister would have to clarify the role of Ugandan troops in South Sudan’s ongoing conflict when he appears before parliament. 

“The starting point would be to know exactly how have we have gone with that crisis in South Sudan, because outrightly, we need to hear from the horse’s mouth, especially from the minister of defense, what has transpired on the ground in South Sudan,” said Nkayi.

South Sudan’s two warring factions are in talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to find ways of ending the conflict which has so far left over 1,000 dead and tens of thousands internally displaced. The talks have been sanctioned by the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Nkayi says parliamentarians want to know what the end game is for UPDF troops in South Sudan.

“We had concerns of really having our people get out of South Sudan safely,” said Nkayi. “But we are also interested in knowing, 'Is it under the IGAD arrangement? Is it under the African Union arrangement?'

"All these are questions that linger in the minds of many.”

Clottey interview with Frederick Mbagadhi Nkayi, Ugandan parliamentarian
Clottey interview with Frederick Mbagadhi Nkayi, Ugandan parliamentariani
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: South Sudanese from: Juba
January 09, 2014 4:27 AM
UPDF in South Sudan soil has already taken side with the president Kirr without consulting the IGAD and African Union and these in long run will have bad relationship with government of Uganda and specially with Ugandans traders in South Sudan.

by: Tash from: South Sudan
January 09, 2014 1:45 AM
In 2005, as South Sudan moved closer to autonomy, Kony agreed to negotiate with Uganda's government under the mediation of Machar. Those talks failed and, in late 2008, Kony and his top commanders fled their base in the forests of east Congo only hours before Uganda's military moved in to launch an aerial assault. Some in Uganda's military believe Machar warned Kony of the impending attack.

"Machar is an independent actor whose shifting loyalties – especially his ability to work with Khartoum – probably unnerves Museveni, who sees his assent to power in South Sudan as riskier for Ugandan interests," "Even now I suspect he considers Machar as a proxy for Khartoum ... Any situation that gives Machar advantage may be considered a danger to Museveni and a direct threat to Uganda."

by: Ann Garrison from: Oakland, CA
January 09, 2014 12:49 AM
On January 3, 2014, the New York Times reported that:

"As with Syria and other sectarian conflicts, Mr. Obama does not have many good options. With no plans for American military intervention, the United States is frantically brokering peace talks between the warring factions while trying to fortify a United Nations peacekeeping force. It is also consulting Uganda and Ethiopia, whose troops could intervene to prevent rebels from seizing South Sudan’s capital, Juba."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs