‘Sudan government has evidence that Uganda still supports rebels in Darfur region’
What you need to know:
Sudan and South Sudan have been fighting over the disputed border for a number of months; a conflict that has attracted the attention of the UN to pass a resolution urging the two sides to stop fighting. South Sudan has accused Khartoum of continuously bombarding its territory. But the Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Hussein Awadi Ali, told Sunday Monitor’s Risdel Kasasira that bombardments will not end soon as long as the South continues occupying Sudanese territories.
1.There are reports that Khartoum is again in touch with the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. How true is this allegation?
Our policy back in Sudan is peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. It’s one of our pillars. Emanating from this policy, the government of Sudan in 1995 started talks with Uganda. We even reached a military agreement to combat, chase and eradicate the LRA. This was under the guidance of the US former president Jimmy Carter and the Kenyan President Arap Moi; a move that was concluded in 1998.
The agreement was signed by presidents Bashir and Museveni. This was followed by a protocol of 2003. The protocol led to Sudan opening its borders and territory for the first time as a gesture of good relations and good neighbourhood to the Ugandan army. Between 2005/6 and after concluding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Sudan left the issue of LRA to South Sudan.
This was a good gesture from Sudan to our brothers in Uganda because after South Sudan gained independence, there was a buffer zone between Uganda and Sudan. Therefore, it is very difficult for Sudan to have contacts with the LRA. It’s shocking when I hear such allegations from the Ugandan side that there is some link between Sudan and LRA. On the other hand, the only border through which the LRA would enter Sudan is the Central African Republic. But there is a military commission composed of Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic which patrols the border. How can LRA jump from CAR to Sudan?
2. There are reports that Kony has moved to the extreme north eastern of CAR near your border and that some of his fighters have actually entered Bahel-Ghazel from where Kony is making contacts with your soldiers?
Such an allegation is really a fallacy and unfortunately the intelligence may not be authenticated. As I told you, how can elements from the LRA jump these patrols at the border and go to Sudan? Secondly, Bahel-Ghazel is no longer in Sudan it is on the boundary of South Sudan. I want my brothers in Uganda to interpret for me how this can happen.
3. Can you rule out the possibility that some elements within Sudanese forces are supporting LRA?
This is very difficult to prove. It’s not an official policy. If there are individuals within the forces doing it, it can be easily contained and discussed. We can discuss this in a diplomatic way and solve the problem. May be African Union or International Conference for Great Lakes Region can intervene and arbitrate because Darfurians and LRA are both negative forces.
4. Khartoum has been accusing Uganda of supporting Darfurian rebel groups in the south. Do you have any evidence?
True, the Sudanese government is accusing Uganda. If your house is built of glasses, don’t engage in a stone-throwing fight. We all have problems of security and that is why there is an international effort to stop this fragile situation. United States has sent 100 troops to search for Kony in this vast and forested area. On the other hand, Sudan is accusing Uganda of supporting Darfurian rebels by giving them logistical facilities.
Both countries must stick to negotiations; serious negotiations. We, in Sudan are ready and have contacted the Ugandan side. The two sides have agreed to set up a technical team to discuss these allegations. I am still waiting for approval from the Ugandan side to allow that team to come and notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four months.
5. When do you hope the team will come to Kampala to meet with their Ugandan counterparts?
I conveyed the readiness of my country to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are ready on our side. Khartoum, not me, has evidence that Uganda is assisting Darfurian rebels.
6. When you say Bahel-Ghazel is in the South and that South Sudan is a buffer zone between Uganda and Sudan, are you saying South Sudan is not doing enough to stop Kony?
This question should be directed to South Sudan. But on our side, when Sudan was still united, we worked with Uganda to fight Kony. We did it in a transparent way until we handed over the responsibility of fighting Kony to the government of South Sudan. The government of Sudan handed over files on Kony to South Sudan, so that they can work with Uganda to deal with the LRA. Any accusation against Sudan is wrong. It should be South Sudan to answer such questions. I heard the [Ugandan] minister of Foreign Affairs saying that Kony is in Bahel-Gazel, I want them to know that Bahel-Gazel is part of South Sudan.
7. What do you think of the United Nations resolution passed this week telling Khartoum and Juba to stop fighting or else face sanctions?
First of all, we welcome the intervention of the African Union to mediate between the two countries. The resolution asks the two sides to sit, negotiate and find a solution to the conflict. We welcome it. But we only have some reservations regarding that decision because it put the aggressor, which is the South and the victim, which is the North, on the same level. You cannot say the victim should be the same as the aggressor.
The second reservation is that there is hurriedness to transfer the process of mediation from AU to the UN. The process has been sabotaged by the United States. US is working with our neighbouring countries to disturb the unity of Sudan. They have worked with the US to dismantle Sudan. Even the separation of Sudan and South Sudan was the work of the US and these regional powers. The US has its interests in the region. They are trying to give South Sudan an upper-hand by hook or crook. US is looking for its interests, not the interests of the people in the region. South Sudan is an artificial state by the US government.
What is going on is a manifestation of the US government’s selfish interests in the region. I would like to clarify one thing; our boundary is based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It says the two countries should be separated basing on the boundary drawn in 1956. That line is the official demarcation between the North and South. Both sides agreed. Unfortunately the SPLA/M, in collaboration with US, Israel and some regional powers, are trying to distort these facts. They have created a hostile atmosphere for the two sides not to finish demarcating the whole boundary.
When South Sudan jumped into Heglig, they knew this part was not disputed. It’s in the north of that line. The UN Charter, Article 55, gives a country a right to fight in self-defence and that’s what we did. We are fighting in the north of the line. We are not bombing South Sudan and I can tell you, we will continue fighting for our land until we liberate it. They are still occupying nine areas in our territory. They have been forced to withdraw because we killed many of their soldiers. We chased them, we killed them, they ran away and we will continue bombing them. We will bomb them if they don’t withdraw from these nine areas. We will bombard them because they are within the territory of the North. We will bomb them because they are blood suckers. It’s our right of self-defence.