Thursday July 3 2014

Army MP: UPDF in S. Sudan has kept north stable

Maj Gen Oketta, the UPDF MP, hands over a certificate to

Maj Gen Oketta, the UPDF MP, hands over a certificate to a member of the patriotism club in Adjumani District on Tuesday. Photo by Martin Okudi 


Adjumani- The presence of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) in the neighbouring South Sudan has averted possible disruption of the existing peace in Uganda’s border district, a senior army officer has said.

Maj Gen Julius Oketta, the UPDF representative in Parliament, said without the army in South Sudan, security of Kitgum, Amuru, Adjumani, Moyo and Koboko districts would be at stake.

“The existence of UPDF in South Sudan should not be politicised but rather it should be judged from a positive point of view,” Gen Oketta said during the pass out of patriotic club members in Adjumani District on Tuesday.

Gen Oketta’s remarks come as the involvement of the UPDF in the South Sudan conflict has received international condemnation. The US, Norway and Ethiopia are among the countries that have questioned Uganda’s continued presence in South Sudan and have called for them to leave.

But a host of government officials and army leaders, including the President, have scoffed at these claims, saying the UPDF will only leave South Sudan if there is an alternative security arrangement.

Gen Oketta also said the involvement is to defend national security since Uganda has special interest in keeping away the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, who are still at large.

The Adjumani District chairperson, Mr Nixon Owole, said the district leaders support the presence of UPDF in South Sudan, saying the reasons given for their stay were genuine.

Mr Christopher Irama, one of the beneficiaries of the patriotism training, called for the creation of a resource centre in the district fully stocked with books, periodicals and documentaries that can remind the patriots about the history of Uganda.

Gen Oketta said he will table the concerns of the patriots before the Minister for Presidency.