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S. Sudan insists UPDF must withdraw
By James Gatdet Dak & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, The Sunday Monitor
July 6, 2008

FOREIGN LEGION: UPDF soldiers return to Palutaka tactical base in South Sudan, 2005. File photo.

Juba, Kampala

With the northern Uganda peace process faltering, the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has confirmed that it ordered the Ugandan army out of its territory following confirmation that UPDF troops have been masquerading as LRA rebels and attacking the local population.

The Sudan Tribune reported in Juba on Friday that GoSS Vice President, Dr Riek Machar Teny, revealed that President Salva Kiir Mayardit took the decision to throw out the Uganda People’s Defence Forces from Southern Sudan territory as early as June 8.

In his briefing to the Council of Ministers meeting which he chaired on Friday, Dr Machar said President Kiir instructed the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak to communicate the order to his Uganda army counterpart in Kampala.

He said the decision was reached June 7 in the Southern Sudan Security Committee meeting chaired by President Kiir Mayardit.
Dr Machar said he was misquoted by Uganda media that wrongly connected his statement in the Southern Sudan Parliament on Monday with the decision of the government to expel the Ugandan army.

He explained that he was just informing the Parliament about the government’s decision to expel the UPDF.
Dr Machar further explained that the decision to expel the UPDF was reached while he was away in Khartoum on official business.
He described the government of Uganda as the “best friend” of Southern Sudan in the region.

Dr Machar, however, pointed out that there is no operational protocol under which the UPDF can continue maintaining a presence in Southern Sudan, saying they came to Sudan through an agreement with the Khartoum government which expired in 2006.

Dr Machar added that the SPLA is now an organised army that should take charge of security in the territory of Southern Sudan.
Evidence of UPDF masquerading as LRA rebels came to light following the June 14 attack on Pageri Pagam, Nabanga in which civilians were killed. Material evidence recovered from the scene has implicated the UPDF. Dr Machar said the Uganda Consul General in Juba, Busho Ndinyenka has confirmed that the materials found belong to UPDF.

Dr Machar said Mr Ndinyenka told him that the materials “just got lost from the UPDF [who were] in pursuit of the LRA in the area”.
The GoSS vice president further explained that when UPDF members on the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT), which was set up as part of Juba peace process, reportedly tried to deny the UPDF complicity during the verification exercise the other members from five African countries confronted the UPDF members with the evidence.

The CHMT comprises military officers from Republic of South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Southern Sudan and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The CHMT was established in accordance with the agreement signed by the Uganda government and the LRA to monitor any violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by the two parties in Juba on August 26, 2006.

The team is led by SPLA’s Maj. Gen. Wilson Deng Kuoirot.
The CHMT earlier carried out investigations into the deadly attack on Nabanga Pagam in Western Equatoria state in which the report submitted to the Chief Mediator accused the LRA of that incident.

In the verification report submitted to office of the Chief Mediator, the CHMT observed that evidence of materials found at the scene, where the body of an unidentified person was found, implicated the UPDF masquerading as LRA.

A document recovered near the body had full names of suspected UPDF soldiers indicating “Section II, Platoon I, ‘A’ Coy”, and military ranks including army numbers.

The CHMT Leader recommends that a further investigation be carried out to identify the culprits and apprehend them.
The GoSS Council of Ministers on Friday expressed the necessity to enlighten the press on the decision of the government to expel the UPDF from Southern Sudan, saying it was unfortunate that the press criticised the vice president as if the decision was reached by him alone.

However, on Saturday acting UPDF Publicist, Capt. Chris Magezi said they have not yet received any formal communication from Southern Sudan about the directive to withdraw.

“As far as we are concerned, there is no formal communication yet in that regard,” he said on telephone yesterday.
Capt. Magezi also again denied reports that it was UPDF that carried out the recent attacks in Southern Sudan as the army had said mid week.
“Those are allegations .We held several meetings with the SPLA commanders and the minutes are there. There is no doubt that those were LRA who carried out the attacks in a bid to unearth some weapons in the area,” he said.

Asked why UPDF was still in Southern Sudan yet its mandate had already expired, Capt. Magezi said they were there because of the good relationship with the SPLA.

“We couldn’t have been there without the will of the Government of Southern Sudan. Unless there are other strong reasons which they have not told the world,” he added.

The current stand-off between Uganda and Southern Sudan who have been allies for decades stems from the June 19 attack in Nyongwa Village and earlier ones in Nabanga . The attacks in Nyongwa led to the death of 31-year-old Jino Moga Mandara.

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