October 25, 2014 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s opposition faction led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, has renewed calls for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops and other foreign rebels allied to president Salva Kiir’s government from the country.
- The Ugandan military has been providing support to the South Sudanese army (SPLA) since conflict erupted in the country in mid-December (AP)
The opposition leader’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, when contacted on Saturday said the resolutions passed by the leadership council of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) in a five-day meeting which concluded in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday, had renewed the call for immediate withdrawal of foreign forces.
In quotations extended to Sudan Tribune, the opposition group also resolved to engage the international community on the renewal of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“In the light of the deployment of the IGAD Protection Force under UNMISS new Mandate, we renew the call for the immediate withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Sudanese rebel groups from the territory of the Republic of South Sudan,” partly reads the resolution.
“The leadership to engage UN, IGAD and Troika on the renewal of the UNMISS mandate and the composition of the peace keeping force,” it says.
Rebels said Uganda deployed troops to South Sudan days before the 15 December crisis, accusing the southern neighbour of interference in the internal conflict.
Uganda on the other hand argued it saved the leadership of president Kiir from collapse when the rebels were matching towards the nation’s capital, Juba, in January, as well as safeguarded its economic interests as the biggest exporter to South Sudan.
A cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January between the warring parties has not been implemented despite the agreement to withdraw all the foreign troops.
This month Kampala and Juba signed yet another strategic military cooperation agreement which makes it possible for Uganda to purchase military equipment on behalf of the South Sudanese government in case an arms embargo is imposed by the international community.
The rebels said the deal was unacceptable and would make Kampala an “accomplice” in non-compliance to the would-be arms embargo against Juba.
REBELS RECOMMIT TO PEACE PROCESS
On the peace talks, the rebel group said it recommitted itself to the process mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia as well as appreciated the initiative of the Tanzanian ruling party in Arusha in trying to bring together the SPLM factions in order to address the root causes of the crisis which started within the ruling party.
The resolutions, however, explicitly stated that the Arusha initiative which is facilitated by the Tanzanian Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is neither a substitute nor an alternative to the Addis Ababa IGAD mediated peace process.
However, it urged members of the movement to contribute ideas to the items in the agenda which will discuss political, organisational and leadership issues in case the dialogue continues among the three factions.
“The ongoing Arusha Intra-SPLM Dialogue facilitated by CCM is an important process which should be concluded without contradicting resolutions of the Nasir Consultative Conference,” it further stated.
The resolutions also called upon the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) that initiated the intra-SPLM dialogue in April in Addis Ababa to contribute to the Arusha process.
The movement has reconfirmed federalism as the system of governance as adopted in the Nasir consultative meeting in April this year.
It also reiterates calls for reforms in all the public and security sectors in the country subject to negotiations in the IGAD-led peace talks.
REBELS VISIT KAMPALA
In August, a high-level delegation of the opposition faction visited Uganda for talks with Uganda’s top leadership on the fate of its army deployed in South Sudan.
Last month, however, Machar’s delegation opened a liaison office in Kampala as part of efforts to promote its seemingly tense relations with the Ugandan government.
The newly established office, officials told Sudan Tribune, will coordinate diplomatic relations, as well as humanitarian, peace and reconciliation initiatives in Uganda aimed at realising a peaceful and sustainable solution to South Sudan’s ongoing crisis.