By Charles Etukuri
The Government has come out to strongly refute a statement attributed to the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Borge Brende, stating that he had delivered a message to the Uganda's foreign minister on the sidelines of an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa about the need to reduce deployment of Ugandan troops in South Sudan.
In a statement, the Government maintained that the issue of Uganda's withdrawal from South Sudan was never discussed when the two ministers met at the sidelines of the AU meeting.
“The issue of Uganda’s intervention in South Sudan was reasserted by Hon. Sam Kutesa, citing Uganda's invitation by the legitimately elected Government of the Republic Of South Sudan, evacuation of thousands of Ugandan citizens and foreign nationals, securing of strategic installations, clearing of routes for humanitarian interventions; and the significant issue of national interest.”
The statement released by the head of Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Fred Opolot further said that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces was in Sudan to secure Uganda’s interest and there was no way it would leave now when the fighting was still going on.
“The instability of the Republic of South Sudan could be taken advantage of by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which destabilized Uganda for over 20 years using South Sudan as a rear base,” Opolot said.
The statement also said that going forward, the two Ministers agreed with the AU position on unacceptable unconstitutional, forceful change of Government, assist the Republic of South Sudan to build institutions of state, continue working under IGAD/AU frameworks and mechanisms in monitoring the ceasefire agreement and that the political dialogue between Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the rebels be supported and encouraged.
Norway did not discuss UPDF withdrawal with Government