What you need to know:
n a December 24, 2013 letter, the President told Ms Kadaga that given the importance of South Sudan to peace in northern Uganda, DRC and CAR, “Uganda cannot and should not stand aloof and watch the situation deteriorating”.
PARLIAMENT- President Museveni is seeking retrospective authority from MPs to deploy Ugandan troops for “peacekeeping or peace enforcement” in South Sudan.
This comes amidst controversy over a letter the President wrote to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to recall Parliament from recess over the Juba matter.
In a December 24, 2013 letter, the President told Ms Kadaga that given the importance of South Sudan to peace in northern Uganda, DRC and CAR, “Uganda cannot and should not stand aloof and watch the situation deteriorating”.
However, although the President’s letter appears to have been written on December 24, 2013, it bears a stamp of the Speaker’s office showing it was received on January 9, 2014.
This was a day after the Speaker had written to the Ministry of Defence, asking them to avail her the relevant information regarding the UPDF deployment in South Sudan to enable her recall Parliament from recess to ratify the deployment.
It is not clear why a letter by the President to the Speaker on an urgent matter such as this would take two weeks before it is delivered.
Detractors claim the President’s letter was a panic response, which was perhaps back-dated to defeat Parliament’s accusation that the commander-in-chief had deployed troops in a foreign country without leave of Parliament as required by the Constitution.
In her letter to Defence ministry, Ms Kadaga had written that she would be grateful if she received the required information not later than January 13.
MPs led by Paul Mwiru (Jinja East) and Hassan Kaps Fungaroo (Obongi County) last week sought an emergency recall of Parliament to debate the UPDF deployment in South Sudan and several MPs had signed the recall petition.
On Thursday, Ms Kadaga was quoted on TV saying State House was acting in bad faith by trying to portray that the President had long informed her to recall Parliament but she had been delaying the process.
On the same day, Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, which had convened to seek an explanation from Defence minister Crispus Kiyonga degenerated into a shouting match between opposition MPs and some of their NRM counterparts after the minister failed to show up and instead junior Defence minister Jeje Odongo pleaded for more time to return to the committee to explain the Juba deployments.
Describing South Sudan as “our brotherly country”, the President said he had initially deployed a small force to guard Juba airport in agreement with President Salva Kiir and other leaders, but added that he was considering deploying more troops.
He said the deployments were to ensure regional security, protect the thriving trade with South Sudan and rescue trapped Ugandans and constitutionalism in South Sudan.
“I am therefore, writing to you to request you call Parliament to approve my actions as provided for by the UPDF Act. The mission for the deployment is for both peacekeeping but if necessary for peace enforcement,” Mr Museveni said.
Ms Kadaga has indeed recalled Parliament on January 14 to debate Museveni’s request.
On December 30, 2013, President Museveni travelled to Juba where he warned Dr Riek Machar to embrace the ceasefire plan suggested by President Kiir and endorsed by regional leaders under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development or face the wrath of the regional forces.
Peace talks: The two parties are reported to have agreed on a cessation of hostilities but fighting continued raging in various areas in Bor and Bentiu in Jonglei and Unity states.
Objection to UPDF deployment: Dr Riek Machar’s negotiating team this week demanded the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, accusing Uganda of meddling in “an internal conflict”.