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Explain army’s role in S. Sudan conflict, MPs tell Museveni

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By MERCY NALUGO

Posted  Wednesday, January 1   2014 at  02:00
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A group of MPs have asked that Parliament be recalled from Christmas recess to enable government explain the Ugandan army’s involvement in South Sudan’s conflict without House authorisation.

The lawmakers: Theodore Ssekikubo, Joseph Ssewungu, Abdu Katuntu, Barnabas Tinkasiimire, Medard Sseggona, Wilfred Niwagaba and Gerald Karuhanga made the call while delivering what they called their “New Year message” to Ugandans yesterday.

They also asked Uganda’s President to withdraw his warning to South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to either end fighting or face defeat by regional forces.

The seven MPs also called on the warring parties to exercise maximum restraint. “Article 210 of the Constitution is very clear. It says that Parliament shall regulate UPDF. What the President should have done is to explain to the MPs that we have deployed and seek Parliament’s constitutional mandate. This he has not done,” noted Mr Ssekikubo. He accused the President of inciting South Sudan leader Salvar Kiir’s Dinka against the Nuer tribe of rebel kingpin Dr Riek Machar.

“The statements by the Head of State are heavily loaded statements. Since when did President Museveni become a referee or belligerent in that country?” asked Mr Ssekikubo, adding that UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon only “asked him [the President] to use his good office to mediate between Riek Machar and not to incite violence”.

MPs’ warning
The MPs warned that President Museveni’s Monday statements in Juba places Uganda on a collision path with South Sudan and puts the lives of Ugandans there at risk. Mr Katuntu said South Sudan’s political problems cannot be sorted out militarily. “If we begin taking up arms and start shooting, this would be the biggest mistake we will have undertaken,” said Mr Katuntu.

Mr Ssegona remarked that Uganda’s involvement in the affairs of other countries might plunge the country into war. “You cannot be everywhere at the same time. We are in Rwanda, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Kenya and everywhere as we spend the country’s resources yet there is no medicine in hospitals,” Mr Ssegona said.

Mr Tinkasiimire said the President should not play the role of a “Fire brigade officer” who goes everywhere. “We expect him to deliver on his manifesto and not become a warmonger,” he said.

“We should be discussing electoral reforms at the moment and not meddle into the affairs of other countries. There is unemployment and urgent problems that need to be tackled other than fighting,” Karuhanga said.

mnalugo@ug. nationmedia.com