Sunday May 25 2014

Acholi leaders want UPDF out of S. Sudan

UPDF soldiers in Bor, South Sudan. Acholi leaders

UPDF soldiers in Bor, South Sudan. Acholi leaders want the force out of the conflict infested country. FILE PHOTO 

By Julius Ocungi

Gulu- Leaders in Acholi sub-region have asked the government to withdraw the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) from South Sudan to pave way for peace in Africa’s youngest nation that has been at war for six months.

Since the fighting broke out in December, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have signed two peace agreements in Addis Ababa, which they have both violated, the latest truce having been endorsed two weeks ago.

The chairperson of Acholi Parliamentary Group, Mr Reagan Okumu, said the fresh fighting in South Sudan could have been controlled if the UPDF had pulled out of the volatile country.

The chairperson of Atiak Sub-county, Amuru District, which borders South Sudan, Mr John Bosco Ocan, said fighting between President Kiir’s government and Dr Machar’s rebels caused fear among residents in northern Uganda, who are still recovering from the post-conflict effects of the two-decade old Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.

Mr Ocan, asked the government to withdraw its troops from South Sudan because UPDF deployment there has become a catalyst rather than a solution to the war.

His position was echoed by the retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, Macleod Baker Ochola, who condemned the UPDF’s continued presence in South Sudan despite the peace deals between the two warring sides.

“We saw this coming; UPDF’s intervention and is taking sides with President Kiir. The only way the young nation can achieve peace is through total evacuation of UPDF troops or they act on a neutral ground of brokering peace between the warring factions,” he said.

Matter raised before
Last week, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu raised the red flag over the continued deployment of UPDF and asked the government how long the national army would stay in South Sudan.

Early this month, President Museveni said no one can force him out of South Sudan where he has restored stability and averted genocide.