By Henry Sekanjako
The speaker of South Sudan national Assembly Magok Rundial has defended the deployment of Uganda Peoples defense forces (UPDF) in his home land South Sudan saying their deployment followed a long standing agreement (status of forces agreement) which was signed between the two countries some time back.
Magok, who was meeting the speaker East African legislative Assembly (EALA) Margaret Zziwa on Friday, also said South Sudan President Salva Kiir didn’t write to President Yoweri Museveni over the deployment of UPDF troops but followed the agreement between the two countries.
“The letter was not written by our government, I have not seen any letter written by Salva Kiir, but there might have been communication between the two presidents calling on Uganda to help south Sudan,” said Magok.
Magok noted that UPDF troops deployment was effected basing on the agreement which Uganda signed with South Sudan during the days of lord’s resistance army insurgency.
Gen Daniel Okwier, the chairperson peace and reconciliation committee parliament of South Sudan said the status of the forces agreement was signed between the two countries even before South Sudan got its independence from Sudan.
“This is not a new agreement, it has been on for some time, it was not signed as a result of the situation so the UPDF troops were deployed there through this agreement not the letter,” said Okwier.
He added that; “whether there is a letter or not it is not anybody’s business, there was an agreement and that was what we followed”.
The agreement provides that the two countries can send troops to either party in case of a war outbreak in any of the two countries.
During a special sitting of parliament early this month to approve the deployment of UPDF in south Sudan, minister for defense Crispus Kiyonga tabled the agreement.
He also told parliament that President Kiir had written a letter to President Museveni asking for Uganda’s intervention.
However the said letter has since not been seen by parliament which state minister for defense Gen Jeje Odongo asked MPs on defense committee to write to president Museveni for a copy after the committee insisted that the ministry provides them with a copy.
Meanwhile south Sudan Speaker, who had led a delegation of South Sudan MPs for a courtesy visit to Uganda Parliament, has applauded Uganda for its intervention into the war saying they would be history.
“We are grateful to Uganda to Uganda people, without you we would not survive,” he noted.
Magok said the conflict in South Sudan was a political one not tribal adding that the rebels wanted to take over government.
EALA speaker, Margaret Zziwa extended her sympathy to the people of South Sudan and called for everlasting peace between the two parties.
The two parties have however since signed a cease fire agreement ending the month long fighting between South Sudan government and rebels royal to former vice president Riek Machar.