By Raymond Baguma
Uganda has protested a United Nations (UN) report accusing it of using cluster bombs in the war in South Sudan.
A report by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it found evidence on use of cluster munitions in Bor town which under the control of Uganda’s army – the UPDF – and South Sudan government forces.
Ugandan state minister for foreign affairs Henry Oryem Okello has said the report is “rubbish and unfounded”.
He said: “It’s unfortunate and sad that the UN wants to malign the Government of Uganda. The last time, we challenged UN on M23 rebels, we were right and UN was proved wrong.”
The minister said Uganda is a signatory to the UN convention against the use of cluster munitions and cannot violate the convention.
He expressed dismay that Ugandan troops are protecting UN bases in South Sudan which is the work of UN peacekeepers, yet the UN keeps maligning Uganda.
Meanwhile, the minister has said that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) troops will remain in South Sudan until the regional bloc IGAD deploys the proposed Protection Force.
Oryem said: “The UPDF will remain in South Sudan until such a time when the South Sudan government will say that we can leave. We are not going anywhere and nobody has the right to tell us to leave.”
His statement comes after a peace agreement was signed between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Marchar in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Friday.
In a separate interview, Samuel Luate Lominsuk who is South Sudan’s ambassador to Uganda said that when the regional IGAD force deploys, UPDF will move to hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony, in line with the bilateral agreement of 2008.
Ambassador Lominsuk said the deployment of Ugandan troops in South Sudan was a rescue mission that averted the danger of ethnic cleansing.
“UPDF was invited to protect key installations from being vandalized,” said the envoy.
“We should be happy with what Ugandan forces did. When war erupted, Ugandan forces secured Juba International Airport and foreign planes were able to evacuate their nationals who included Kenyans, British and the US.
“When Americans went to Bor their aircraft was shot and they came back with casualties. Ugandan forces are there to protect and they listen to the President who invited them,” said the ambassador.
UPDF not leaving South Sudan; Uganda protests UN report on cluster bombs