Parliament’s Defence Committee has recommended that the Ministry of Finance provides funding for UPDF operations in South Sudan.
It further recommends that Government engages the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to take charge in South Sudan in preparation for the withdrawal of Ugandan forces.
The recommendations are rooted in a report of the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee of parliament based on the ministerial policy statement and Budget Estimates for FY 2014/15.
The Defence Ministry did not budget for the operations this financial year although Ugx 25.1billion was reportedly spent in the previous year.
UPDF troops were sent into South Sudan days after fighting broke out in December, 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The troops were tasked to protect government installations and help foreign nationals to safely evacuate the country.
They were later reported to be in combat operations fighting alongside Salva Kiir’s forces, a development which prompted members of parliament to demand an exit strategy for the UPDF.
Eventually, leaders from both countries announced that the forces would not leave the country until the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks for South Sudan, deployed a regional force to keep the peace and secure vital installations.
Defence Committee Chairperson Benny Namugwanya noted that the committee learnt from the Defense Ministry that they had anticipated that the troops would have returned home by start of this financial year.
The withdrawal would be synchronized with IGAD’s deployment plan which is still ongoing.
“The Minister informed the Committee that Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia agreed to contribute troops to the IGAD mission in South Sudan but none of them have so far deployed the troops. In the absence of the IGAD troops’ contribution, the UPDF has to remain in South Sudan”, Namugwanya stated.
Namugwanya also told Parliament that the Committee was further informed that a bi-lateral agreement was executed requiring the Government of South Sudan to meet the fuel costs for the operation within the Republic of South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the same committee recommends that government develops a policy for all post war situations where the UPDF has played a significant role.
The Committee observes that UPDF operations have pacified war-torn regions like Somalia but have however been marred by corruption and mismanagement of resources by some officers, which has tarnished the image of the UPDF and the country.
The Ministry of Defence Budget proposal for FY 2014/15 is Ugx 1.1trillion.
The budget on UPDF operations under the African Mission in Somalia-AMISOM has increased from Ugx 244.4 Billion to 253.2billion.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah deferred the debate on the Defense and Internal Affairs Report to Tuesday next week.