Wednesday January 15 2014

Tread carefully on South Sudan

By Editorial

Over the last two decades, Uganda has earned itself the infamous reputation of being involved in most divisive happenings amongst its conflict-prone neighbours.

And just when most Ugandans thought they needed to exercise caution in regard to the latest conflict, President Museveni appears to be eager to commit more troops towards the South Sudan conflict, regardless of Uganda’s suspected impartiality in the conflict.

Early this week, the NRM Caucus met and resolved to support the military mission abroad even as some warned of the dire consequences that could result from taking sides in what they called a tribal war.

Uganda is already involved in Somalia and the Central African Republic and it has previously been linked to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Museveni in a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga dated December 24, 2013, but received in Parliament on January 9, talked of the importance of South Sudan for the peace in northern Uganda, DRC and CAR.

President Museveni has previously argued that Uganda’s involvement in these conflicts should not be perceived as aimless warmongering but as genuine and noble efforts that are meant to secure the region.

It is all well for Uganda to be keen on having a secure region as this is not only key to our stability but also to our economic growth, given that our neighbours serve as our markets.
We, however, need to be careful not to stretch our limited financial and military resources by quickly committing to every conflict that emerges in the region.

Members of Parliament and other advisers argue that the authority to send soldiers to South Sudan should be granted on condition that other countries under Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) contribute soldiers to the mission.

The United Nations Security Council has strongly discouraged external intervention as this could heighten military and political tensions. Following accusations of Uganda’s impartiality, the Uganda People Defence Forces, should avoid a unilateral approach to the situation.

Better still, we should ensure that our soldiers are not taking sides in the conflict as this will only serve to complicate an already difficult situation.