News / Africa

Uganda Playing Critical ‘Role’ to Solve South Sudan Conflict

A South Sudanese government soldier stands with others near their vehicles, after government forces on Friday retook from rebel forces the provincial capital of Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan, Sunday, Jan 12, 2014.
A South Sudanese government soldier stands with others near their vehicles, after government forces on Friday retook from rebel forces the provincial capital of Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan, Sunday, Jan 12, 2014.
Peter Clottey
Uganda’s foreign ministry spokesman says the country is playing a critical role in regional efforts to resolve South Sudan’s security situation, despite criticism that the government in Kampala is undermining ongoing peace negotiations between warring factions in Ethiopia.

Fred Opolot says Uganda’s opposition groups are politically shortsighted in their criticism of the role the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) is playing in support of President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba.

“The UPDF has been in South Sudan for years even way before this current conflict. Riek Machar knows it, and Ugandans know it. So, really their comments are not helpful,” said Opolot.

South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar accused the UPDF of supporting troops loyal to President Salva Kiir in the conflict. But, Opolot denies that Kampala’s support for Mr. Kiir is thwarting peace negotiations.

“Uganda’s role is not undermining the peace negotiations. In fact Uganda’s role in South Sudan has ensured the protagonists are actually engaging each other,” said Opolot. “Really, if Uganda has transgressed any international protocol, first and foremost IGAD (a regional group) I am sure would have brought Uganda to order. But Uganda is seen as a facilitator of the current process in South Sudan albeit the continued fighting.”

Uganda opposition groups say the UPDF role in supporting the government in Juba could subject citizens trapped in South Sudan to reprisal attacks. But, Opolot disagreed.

“I really hope not because the UPDF went into South Sudan with three objectives, first and foremost to evacuate it citizens, secondly to ensure that [there is] humanitarian access in areas of the conflict is clear, thirdly to ensure that the strategic facilities in South Sudan are safe and that obviously is by the invitation of South Sudanese government,” said Opolot.

He urged allies of Mr. Machar to raise their concerns about Uganda’s presence in South Sudan to mediators at the ongoing peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Opolot also refuted criticism by some that Uganda’s strong backing of the government is hurting efforts aimed at bringing about a ceasefire.  He says Uganda’s efforts are firmly in support of regional objectives to end the conflict. 

“Uganda has not been partisan at all,” said Opolot. “The government of South Sudan is dealing with the government of Uganda. Before Uganda went to South Sudan on invitation by the government there, heads of state of IGAD met and acknowledged Uganda’s role in South Sudan. If there were to be dissatisfaction of Uganda’s role, I’m pretty sure that the IGAD members would bring Uganda to book.”

Opolot says Uganda’s effort in trying to find a solution to the conflict in South Sudan has the support from both regional leaders as well as the United Nations.
Clottey interview with Fred Opolot, Uganda foreign ministry spokesman
Clottey interview with Fred Opolot, Uganda foreign ministry spokesmani
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Comment Sorting
by: Julius mbetta from: Uganda
January 23, 2014 2:48 AM
Uganda we should not give any help to sauth sudan according how they have been touchering us ugandans in sauth sudan let them solve thier problems. And now if Riek wins this war that means we ugandans we wiil never go barck to sauth sudan because we have sawn our side.

by: Anonymous
January 21, 2014 10:12 PM
One who depicts a one sided support of one tribe one tribe against another as responsible in very naive indeed. Uganda junta support for Kiir is far from responsible. Promoting a dictator who is resiting reform within SPLM with troops to kill his own people is foolhardy. All sources have indicated the coup was a made up excuse by Kiir to quash opposition. It is not a wild imagination to assume the plot was hatched by Kiir and Museveni + allies who were afraid of a free and fair democratic election in 2015 after reforms that could have included opponents that had significant strength to defeat Kiir their puppet. With the Museveni's used in Uganda one can only get a clique that rigs elections, clings to power and creates only one person with the so called "vision for a nation". Something you also see in Rwanda. It the plot succeeds it will be the same story in South Sudan, though that seems unlikely at this point. Museveni militia will be forced out of S-Sudan sooner than later. The other regional nations in IGAD can easily see through his posturing. Uganda and all other nations can benefit best from a well governed S-Sudan with a transparent democracy and respect for human dignity for all, but not a gun totting regime depending on militia of well known regional war lords that have precedent of causing chaos in the region and plunder.

by: Anonymous
January 21, 2014 1:34 PM
Museveni miltia is in the war to side with a puppet they can manipulate. It is utter nonsense to depict Uganda unilateral involvement as good in the long term. Soon the forces will be resisted, it is a set up for a protracted war. Ethiopia, Kenya can help find a political solution. The Uganda/Rwanda gun totting juntas only know violence. They failed in DRC, there is no reason to believe they can do any better in S Sudan
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 21, 2014 3:39 PM
It could have been worse if Uganda and others weren't so responsible and decisive , critics like you have nothing to contribute .

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