By John Odyek
Sudan's attempt to accuse Uganda of harboring anti-Khartoum rebel groups is an attempt to cover up and justify its support for LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony.
"Sudan has a guilty conscience because of its role in supporting Kony. I think because of the rebels fighting in the Central African Republic, Kony is going to get a new lease of life.
"They [Sudan] are trying to find a new excuse to give him (Kony) support," Asuman Kiyingi, state minister for regional co-operation told New Vision.
Kiyingi said this in response to press reports in Sudan which reported on Sunday that the Sudanese government lashed out again at Uganda accusing it of undermining regional security by harboring and supporting anti-Khartoum rebel movements.
"They are just politicking. We have a bilateral mechanism for resolving conflicts between the two countries. Why don't they use it? They have made several similar complaints to the UN, OIC, IGAD, ICGLR and we have denied them," Kiyingi added.
Kiyingi said in a recent conference of ministers of the Great Lakes sitting under ICGLR, Sudan made a parallel complaint against Uganda. Sudan wanted the matter to be put on the agenda in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Kiyingi said Uganda responded that the discussion would be a waste of time of other ministers since the two countries have a bilateral mechanism to resolve disputes which could be used and it was agreed by the other ministers.
Press reports in Sudan quoted the spokesman of Sudan's Foreign Ministry Abu-Bakr al-Sideeg who said on Saturday that Kampala's stances have become incomprehensible especially since Khartoum has repeatedly called on Uganda to refrain from backing Sudanese insurgents and interfering in the country's affairs.
The Sudanese diplomat noted that the signed protocol on security, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region which he said obligates all countries in the region including Uganda not to cooperate with the rebels.
He also pointed out that December 2011 Great lakes conference adopted a resolution designating Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) as negative forces.
The report said the Sudanese government was infuriated this year after rebel forces and opposition groups signed an accord in Kampala last January calling for toppling the regime of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Al-Bashir, 67, who is wanted by the ICC, has said he is not seeking re-election when his current term expires in the next four years.
Khartoum to lodge several complaints with the African Union (AU) and other regional blocs against Kampala saying the latter is supporting regime change in Sudan.
Kiyingi stressed that Uganda has always denied the allegations made by Sudan. "We have denied everything. It is not true," he emphasized.
He explained that under the bilateral mechanisms intelligence security chiefs of the two countries have been making exchange visits.
Kiyingi said Uganda was willing to listen to Sudan and resolve any difference amicably. He said Kampala City was a free environment and people who were not armed could sit and discuss anywhere.
"If people sit somewhere and make a statement we cannot know. If some people sit it does not mean the government is supporting them," he hinted.
He noted that because of the complaints by Sudan, Uganda's Police and security agencies would not allow forces opposed to Khartoum to operate in Uganda and if they are there they will expelled.
"Those opposed to Sudan will be warned they are not allowed in Uganda," said the minister.
He however cautioned that Uganda has evidence that Sudan was providing direct military support to Kony. "They give the rebels air cover when they are being pursued," Kiyingi said.
This month the Speaker of the Sudan's national assembly Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir disclosed that Khartoum is working with forces in Uganda that are opposed to president Yoweri Museveni to bring about "positive political influence".
In response to the remarks Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa warned that if Sudan continues supporting forces opposed to the Uganda Government they will be defeated.
"Sudan has always supported LRA leader Joseph Kony, if they want to continue they will meet the same end of defeat. Uganda is not going to promote any groups against the government of Sudan," Kutesa told New Vision in Kampala.
Kutesa also warned that if Sudan were to expel any staff from Uganda's embassy in Sudan as it has threatened, Kampala would reciprocate.
"We hope they don't go that extent," he said.
The minister described as a mistake for al-Tahir to attempt to spoil relations between the countries and try to conduct issues of bilateral relations through the press.