20 December 2013

Uganda Deploys Troops in South Sudan

A rebel militia group known as the "White Army" is marching on the city of Bor, dampening hopes for a cease-fire in the conflict-stricken country. ( Resource: South Sudan Conflict Worsens As Rebels March On Key City )

Kampala — The Ugandan army says it has deployed troops in South Sudan to help secure its citizens from the increasingly volatile country.

"Our mission is to evacuate injured and stranded Ugandans. It is a bilateral arrangement with the government of South Sudan", Paddy Ankunda, spokesman of the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

According to media reports on Thursday, some 150 Ugandans were evacuated from Juba by a military aircraft that had flown in Ugandan special forces to the South Sudan capital.

Ankunda said Ugandan soldiers will remain in South Sudan for "as long as the South Sudan government is still there for us (the UPDF)".

Uganda has a long history of security cooperation with South Sudan, dating back to the long struggle for independence from Sudan.

Over the past few days there have been persistent rumours in Uganda that the government had deployed troops in South Sudan to support the government of president Salva Kiir.

"That is speculation. Our mission is to facilitate the evacuation of Ugandans back to Uganda", Ankunda said when asked about the claims.

In a televised address on Monday, Kiir said his government had foiled an alleged coup attempt on Sunday by his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Machar, whose whereabouts remain unknown, denies the accusation, and has instead called on Kiir to resign from office.

The violence in South Sudan has increasingly become tribal in nature, spreading to areas outside the capital.

World leaders, the UN and neighbouring countries have called for a political solution to the crisis in Africa's youngest nation.

Foreign Affairs ministers from the East African region are currently in Juba for crisis talks as the violence continues to escalate.

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