By Joyce Namutebi
Senior officials from the government of South Sudan have rejected calls from various quarters calling for withdrawal of Ugandan troops from their country.
During a meeting with MPs from Uganda who serve on the committee of defence, South Sudan’s minister for national security, Gen. Obuto Mamur Mete, said the UPDF is the most well-placed army to constitute the IGAD force because it has a long history of joint operations with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
The MPs were last week in areas of South Sudan to assess the implementation of status of the forces’ agreement between the Government and South Sudan that was signed six months ago.
According to a press release from the UPDF headquarters, Mete also noted that the UPDF has South Sudan at heart, the reason for which it went to South Sudan without reservations when called on to assist South Sudan to avert a genocide.
“UPDF has been here since Iron Fist 1 and 2. They have been in South Sudan in the fight against the LRA. Twenty kilometres from here, we fought and lost blood together. They want UPDF to withdraw to the destruction of Uganda and South Sudan,” Mete said.
He noted that South Sudan is a sovereign country with a right to invite any friend without external consent.
“When the LRA was in Uganda, I did not require permission to enter northern Uganda to fight them. ,” he said at the meeting also attended by a cross-section of Ugandan businessmen operating in Juba.
Opposition MPs in Parliament have been asking the Government to withdraw UPDF from South Sudan and let the Sudanese sort out their differences.
The mayor of Bor town, Eng. Nhail Majak Nhail and the speaker of parliament of Jongley state, Peter Deng Aguer, said formerly displaced persons who fled at the height of the unrest have just started to return and that the withdrawal of the UPDF would discourage others from returning.
The commander of the Joint Task Force, Brig. Muhanga Kayanja, also said: “One of the reasons we came here was to avert possible redeployments of the LRA in their former bases”.
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Juba officials reject call for UPDF exit