The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: War of the Sudans Not Yet a Bother - Kiyonga

Defence minister, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, has revealed that -- contrary to Gen Aronda Nyakairima's position that the UPDF will be forced to intervene if the fighting between South Sudan and Sudan escalates -- Uganda has not made any position on the ongoing squabbles between Khartoum and Juba.

Aronda, the Chief of Defence Forces, was quoted by Daily Monitor on April 20 as saying that Uganda will be forced to intervene if the fighting between the two states escalates into a full-scale war.

"We will not sit by and do nothing. We will be involved, having suffered a proxy war by Khartoum. Our people in northern Uganda suffered and intelligence information also indicates that the LRA, who have an estimated 200 guns, are again in contact with Khartoum," he reportedly said.

But while appearing before Parliament's Internal Affairs and Defence committee yesterday, Kiyonga told MPs that contrary to what Aronda said, the official position of government is that of pacifism. He was responding to shadow Defence minister and Obongi MP, Hassan Kaps Fungaroo's concern that Aronda's declaration that Uganda is ready to intervene in the conflict had "illegally" committed the UPDF to war without the constitutional approval of Parliament.

"I doubt that Gen Aronda would take a unilateral position that we should stand with our brothers in South Sudan," Kiyonga responded, adding, however, that: "[The unrest is] a matter that should attract our attention because these are African countries that need to stabilise".

An all-out war between Sudan and South Sudan has edged closer, with warplanes being paraded by the two countries after territorial disputes. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, has come out to say that the time for talking is over, leaving only "the language of the gun and ammunition". Weeks of fighting have left the two countries on the brink of war less than a year after South Sudan gained independence.

Kiyonga was meeting the committee to discuss the budget framework paper of the ministry of Defence. He revealed that cabinet had authorised the ministry of Finance to grant his ministry a Shs 211bn supplementary budget to cater to unpredictable expenditures.

"Whenever you hear noise in your neighbourhood, you have to prepare," Kiyonga told MPs.

Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka, will table the supplementary budget before Parliament next week.

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