By Mary Karugaba
THE National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs met and agreed to back the President’s request to approve the deployment of UPDF in South Sudan. President Yoweri Museveni is expected to make a formal request to Parliament today (Tuesday) at 10am during a special sitting of Parliament.
According to Article 210 of the Constitution its only parliament that has the mandate to authorize the deployment of UPDF outside the country.
However Section 39 of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Act, 2005 allows the President to deploy troops outside Uganda for purposes of peace keeping or peace enforcement and later seeks authority from Parliament in case of an emergency.
Uganda deployed its forces at the height of intense fighting that erupted in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in mid-December following a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar.
According to Government, the deployment in Juba was to help evacuate Ugandan nationals trapped in the conflict.
Several legislators especially from the opposition have been critical of the South Sudan deployment saying it was never approved by Parliament as provided for in the constitution. Several legislators have been pushing for the recall of Parliament saying that the Country’s army was illegally deployed and that government owes an explanation to the country for the deployment.
Under the UPDF act, the President is allowed to deploy soldiers outside the country in an emergency and seek authority from Parliament later.
During the caucus meeting yesterday (Monday), Defense Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi reportedly briefed the MPs on the UPDF deployment and why it was necessary to move in as quickly as possible. “The Minister (Kiyonga) and Prime Minister explained that it was important to intervene in the situation because many Ugandans were at risk,” a source that attended the closed meeting said.
The source said the ministers said the deployment was for purposes of peace keeping and regional security.
But MPs reportedly bombarded Kiyonga with questions of why Government deployed “single handedly” rather than under a multilateral arrangement.
They also asked the Minister who would meet the cost of deployment and equipment in case of any loss. “Members wondered why we did not go to South Sudan under IGAD or UN. They also asked him to explain who was going to meet the budget and why doesn’t South Sudan meet the budget,” a source said.
Other members reportedly complained that whereas Uganda was quick to intervene, South Sudan has not paid over $40m owed to Ugandan businessmen for goods supplied to South Sudan during the liberation wars.
NRM discusses South Sudan deployment