I will come for you, Museveni warns Machar
Posted Tuesday, December 31 2013 at 02:00
President Museveni travelled to Juba where he has asked former vice president now renegade Riek Machar to call a ceasefire or face the wrath of Igad members
Kampala-President Museveni yesterday flew to Juba where he warned South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to embrace a ceasefire suggested by that country’s government or face “defeat” by the regional forces.
“We gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us. That is what we agreed in Nairobi,” he told reporters in Juba.
Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Fred Opolot yesterday acknowledged that he had been briefed about the stern position adopted by the Ugandan President but said: “The warning must be in line with the position taken by IGAD.”
IGAD member states include Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.
Mr Opolot said the President’s visit was part of IGAD effort to end the fighting that broke out on December 15 as a power struggle but has now turned tribal.
On Friday, leaders from the IGAD countries held special discussions on the fighting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and resolved that the warring parties immediately cease hostilities and embrace dialogue.
However, critics have questioned the language used by President Museveni, saying he has “overstepped” his position as President of Uganda.
“What Museveni is doing is not good for Uganda. It will cause us problems. Let him encourage the warring parties to dialogue but not take a one-sided view,” Aswa MP Reagan Okumu, the former Shadow minister for foreign affairs, said yesterday.
President Museveni visited Juba amidst reports that the White Army, a militia composed of Nuer youths reported loyal to Dr Machar, were planning to attack Bor, the capital of Jonglei, which was recaptured by government forces on Friday.
President Kiir, who sacked Dr Machar in July, accused him of starting the violence in a move to seize power – an allegation first denied by Machar. However, Machar has since retreated into the bush and acknowledged he is leading rebel fighters.
Meanwhile UPDF yesterday entered Heglig, the Khartoum-controlled territory and evacuated 110 Ugandans who were rescued from Jonglei.
They landed at Entebbe Airbase at 3pm. Mr Opolot said Khartoum government had cleared UPDF to rescue Ugandans from Heglig.
Meanwhile, an envoy of the Government of South Sudan yesterday said they will not free three key prisoners, whose release Dr Machar, had set as a precondition for talks.
At a press conference at the country’s mission in Kampala, Amb Samuel Luate Laminsuk said his government would not offer any concessions to Dr Machar. It, however, would accept him back if he put down his guns and drew to the discussion table.
Dr Machar told the media last week that he particularly wanted the release of suspended SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, before dialogue with Salva Kiir’s government. But Amb Luate said the government had released two of the 10-arrested former ministers, and was considering releasing more.
“Some political detainees will not be released because they were implicated in other activities, before the coup,” Amb Luate said. These detainees are the former finance Minister, Mr Kosti Manibe, former cabinet affairs Minister, Mr Deng Alor and Pagan Amum.
This creates a sense of uncertainty as to what direction the impasse will now take, especially as the four-day deadline given by IGAD for the start of talks between the Government and Dr Machar’s forces, expires today.