Connect with us
Ministry of health

South Sudan tragedy engulfing Uganda

Ikebesi Omoding

South Sudan tragedy engulfing Uganda

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is slowly facing up to the reality that emanates from Uganda. In the recent altercation in South Sudan’s Unity State, a massacre of more than 200 people has been variously blamed on the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA); the Justice and Equality Movement/Army from Darfur and the SPLM/A in Opposition. The latter refers to the former Vice President Riek Machar’s political arm of his White Army.

What appears to have happened: an armed group stormed the United Nations refugee camp in Bentiu, shooting at whomever they could lay their eyes on. The UN peace keeping troops replied the fire; but despite their reaction, the many civilians who had taken refuge in the camp, were killed.

After wards the spokesman of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), saying that the UPDF could not have watched the situation when the civilians were being killed without replying to the fire.

He did not adequately explain why and what the UPDF, which is not mandated by the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), was doing by the UN camp. This is especially since the UPDF is a partisan force that is in the South Sudan at the behest of South SudanPresident Salvas Kiir, who is facing it off with Machar. Indeed the UN spokesman for UNMISS dismissed Ankunda’s “perception” of the UPDF involvement in what clearly is not the role it should be playing at all in the conflict in South Sudan that has displaced a reported four million people, or, nearly half the population of the country.

What is clear however to emerge from this incident is that where before the UN would have given Uganda the benefit of doubt as to events, they have now learned just as perfidious the NRM propaganda arm is.

Previously in the Congo with the M23 rebels, the UN was content to say that it was Rwanda that was arming the M23 against the government in Kinshasha, gleefully ignoring the obvious presence of the UPF in the conflict. Indeed the UN played fiddle with the talks between the M23 rebels and the DRC government were taking place in Kampala.  In fact the defeat of the M23 was accomplished without Uganda’s name being tarnished in the conflict. The reality with South Sudan is now clearer.

Uganda has not been able to rationalize its presence in South Sudan vis-à-vis the IGAD position of playing the role of mediator between the warring SPLA parties. Uganda has now come to be clearly associated with the SPLA arm of Kiir, thus making it a party to the internecine conflict in that country.

Machar is not short of words to explain that Uganda is playing the aggressor in the South Sudan against the position which is an internal difference within the political spectrum of SPLM. They are attempting to decide who will be the chairman of the SPLM party before the 2016 elections.  It is the failure to conclude the party’s delegated conference that has eventually degenerated into a shoot-out between Kiir and Machar and the claim a coup attempt by Kiir.

That the political punditry in Uganda is in panic over the events in South Sudan is an indication of the real bind that Uganda has put itself in. Whereas there is all the talk of a peaceful negotiation between the two SPLM protagonists that is going on in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, events on the ground are not holding to the progress towards a peaceful settlement.

Whenever Machar has been interviwed in the various world media he has maintained that Uganda is the aggressor against the rebels; and in upholding Kiir in power in South Sudan and against letting a political settlement be found to the political differences between the two. That accusation does not lend well to the position that people like Ankunda want to postulate that they are helping the UN to sort out the problem of the country, especially as the UN itself is now finding itself in a propaganda war with Uganda.

It is obvious that Uganda is not playing ball with the IGAD position in the conflict which renders the position of the African Union towards Uganda as untenable. Soon enough the AU will have to spell out its position clearly on Uganda in relation to the UN in South Sudan. Otherwise the AU is progressively becoming irrelevant in the conflict in South Sudan.




Continue Reading
You may also like...

Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

More in Ikebesi Omoding




To Top