Uganda president Gen Yoweri Museveni sends Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) troops to Uganda-South Sudan border amidst fresh war in Juba following the army High Command resolution.
The resolution from the high command over the security of Uganda has influenced Gen Museveni to send the UPDF to beef security across the South Sudan Ugandan border after war erupted once again in Juba.
News about the combat readiness came to light two days after a splinter group of the country’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), an offshoot of South Sudan’s army, announced it had ousted their leader Riek Machar.
Refresh fighting started after a section of the rebels rejected the move to kick out Dr Machar, who is South Sudan’s First vice President, sparking skirmishes with the renegade group.
The splinter faction is led by the First Lt Gen Simon Gatwech, named as a successor to Dr Machar.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Uganda’s Defence and Military spokesperson Brig Flavia Byekwaso said she was not privy to the intra-SPLA-IO dynamics and factional fighting, but they stand ready to respond to any threats at short notice.
Brig Byekwaso said: “I wasn’t aware of those developments, but I want to believe that we are prepared because these are things that have been happening now and then, and I want to believe that we already have such frameworks in place”.
The UPDF, which fought alongside the SPLA rebels to secure South Sudan’s liberation, has intervened twice in post-independence — in 2013 and again 2016.
On both occasions, the Ugandan military deployed infantry, battle tanks and air firepower to save President Salva Kiir’s government from collapse, prevent worse bloodshed and evacuate Ugandan citizens and expatriates trapped in the fighting between government troops and pro-Machar soldiers.
The uneasy peace in South Sudan is held in place by Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States) guarantors. A peace pact signed after the 2016 fighting ensured Dr Machar’s return to Juba, despite an inordinate delay and unresolved security arrangements, to take up the first of four vice presidential posts in South Sudan.
After years of grumbling, some of the rebel commanders that Dr Machar left in the bush clandestinely ganged up against him to declare First Lt Gen Gatwech as the new commander and leader of SPLA-IO, a move the former dismissed.
Thousands of Ugandans do formal work and businesses in South Sudan, with the northern neighbour among top three leading regional markets for Uganda.
Speaking to this media, they expressed fear for their lives after it emerged that the rebel forces loyal to Gatwech have planned several attacks on Ugandan traders on Nimule-Juba route.