Sudan extends UPDF stay

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd November 2002 03:00 AM

Sudan has renewed an agreement that permits the UPDF to hunt LRA rebels in southern Sudan despite reports that the protocol would not be renewed

By Felix Osike

Sudan has renewed an agreement that permits the UPDF to hunt LRA rebels in southern Sudan.
Despite reports that the protocol would not be renewed, visiting Sudanese officials said in Kampala Thursday the UPDF was free to hunt the LRA inside Sudan for as long as necessary.

The protocol, first signed in March this year, was being extended monthly and had expired in October.

Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir’s special envoy, Mubarak El-Fadil El-Mahdi, the leader of the military delegation, said at the end of the two-day talks in Kampala that there would be no time limit on the offensive, Operation Iron Fist.

“The protocol will remain as long as it is needed to finish the job,” Mubarak told a press conference at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Thursday night, shortly before returning to Khartoum.

He said the time regulation was intended for the convenience of both countries. The extension came after over 10 hours of negotiations.

Defence officials including the Chief of Military Intelligence Col. Noble Mayombo and the Operation Iron Fist overall commander, Brig. Aronda Nyakairima, hailed Sudan for the good gesture.

Defence minister Amama Mbabazi said, “We are very happy with the co-operation extended to us by the Sudanese government and their military commanders on the ground.”

Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail had earlier on Tuesday been quoted as saying Sudan would not renew the protocol due to Uganda’s failure to specify the time limit.
But Abubakar denied the allegations.

“It was a misrepresentation,” he said.

Museveni last week threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Khartoum if elements in the Sudanese government were trying to resume support to the LRA rebels.

Addressing Parliament on Thursday, Museveni urged Sudan to hunt down the LRA whom he said had fled deep into southern Sudan areas of Imatong hills near Jabeleini. He said this was farther than the four degrees limit granted to the UPDF.

Mubarak said the two countries would not limit UPDF operations to latitudes. “The target is to stem out the LRA out of Sudan and Uganda.

Sudan’s principled position is to stem terrorism. We have finally found out that Kony’s movement is a terrorist organisation which has no political objective,” he said.

The Sudanese delegation included state minister for foreign affairs Eng. Sol Deng Alak, Maj. Gen Abdal Karim Abdullah, the head of Sudanese intelligence, Maj. Mutwakil Youfif, his personal assistant, Maj. Gen. Mahjoub Sharffi of the defence ministry and four protocol officers.

The Sudanese ambassador to Uganda, Yousef Hamid Sirajuddin, attended the talks.

Mubarak said the Sudanese and Ugandan ministers of defence will meet very soon to work out the details of the protocol.

“We have been here to convey a message from President Bashir expressing Sudan’s firm stand with Uganda in the fight against terrorism and the LRA,” he said.

He said the visit was also aimed at warming up relations between the neighbours. Uganda and Sudan signed a pact in 1999 in Nairobi, undertaking to stop any support to each other’s rebel groups.

Abubakar said Museveni’s role was crucial in speeding the Machakos peace pact.

Sudan extends UPDF stay

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