Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF will withdraw from South Sudan in phases, Colonel Paddy Ankunda, the army spokesperson has disclosed.
This comes amidst increased pressure from the United States asking Uganda to withdrawal its troops from South Sudan. John Kerry, the US secretary of state asked UPDF to pull out of South Sudan in the interest of furthering the Addis Ababa peace process.
He was addressing journalists in a teleconference held at US embassy in Kampala. Kerry also revealed that has been in contact with President Yoweri Museveni and his south sudan counter general Salva Kiir to initiate dialogue on the withdrawal of UPDF from the war-torn country. Now, the army spokesperson says the withdrawal of forces from South Sudan will have to undergo a process and not mere calls from foreign countries.
The status of the forces agreement that was signed between the Kiir Government and Uganda in Juba on 10th January 2014 is silent on the withdrawal of the Ugandan troops. Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Barnaba Mariel Benjamin, the South Sudan Foreign Affairs minister said the UPDF will remain in the country for as long as the hunt for Joseph Kony and stabilization of South Sudan is not complete.
Uganda has over 1000 troops in south Sudan currently fighting alongside the government forces in Bor. Ugandan troops are majorly co-coordinating air raids and surveillance of operations for the SPLA forces. The rebel forces led by former vice president Riek Machar have hinted continuously that the presence of the UPDF forces in the country is affecting the peace talks in Ethiopia.
A resolution for the cessation of hostilities was earlier signed by IGAD, which halted clashes amongst the warring parties.