President Museveni and his South Sudanese counterpart, Gen Salva Kiir, yesterday met to discuss the fate of Ugandan troops who are supposed to either progressively withdraw or become part of the proposed African Union peacekeeping force in South Sudan.
Details of the three–hour meeting at State House Entebbe were not readily available after officials at the last minute cancelled a joint press conference by the two principals on the matter.
In a statement last evening, State House said: [Gen] Salva Kiir [and Museveni] held discussions centering on various matters of bilateral and mutual interest between Uganda and South Sudan.”
The Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Amb James Mugume, told Daily Monitor before the meeting that it was African Union and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) supposed to decide whether the UPDF will remain in South Sudan or not. “It’s not for us to decide. It’s AU and IGAD to decide whether UPDF should be re-deployed or gradually pullout,” he said.
Early this year, President Museveni said he deployed the UPDF in South Sudan in December last year at the request of president Kiir, who said then that he had survived a coup masterminded by his former vice, Dr Riek Machar.
Mr Kiir at yesterday’s talk reportedly asked Uganda to enlist as a party to the ongoing negotiations in Addis Ababa where Machar’s group is demanding equal status with the Government of South Sudan delegates.
The rebels also want suspected perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the five-month conflict punished equally.
The US later asked the UPDF to withdraw, warning that its continued stay risked spiraling the fighting into a regional conflict.
The UPDF has been fighting alongside South Sudan government troops, raising suspicion of over its impartially if re-hatted under the planned regional peace-keeping force.