South Sudan Opposition Army Calls on US Ally Uganda to Withdraw Troops

By Ann Garrison


KPFA Evening News, broadcast 02.08.2014

The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army in Opposition has said that they expect no progress in peace talks regarding the civil war in South Sudan unless Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni withdraws his army from South Sudan, which is there to back up President Kiir’s faction of the army, not only with troops but also with artillery and helicopter gunships.

Transcript:
KPFA Evening News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: South Sudan’s national army, and its government, split into warring factions in mid-December last year, and in spite of a ceasefire agreement negotiated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, neither side has stopped fighting. Negotiators for the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Army and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army in Opposition will return to the negotiating table on Monday. However, Bor Gatwech, a lawmaker and negotiator for the Army in Opposition, said that his team does not expect progress until Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni withdraws his army. Museveni sent his trrops as back up to the army faction led by President Salva Kiir. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Amii Omara Otunnu, a Ugandan American professor at the University of Connecticut, and an expert on the Ugandan Army, and filed this report.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Amii Omara Otunnu, the Ugandan army crossed the border into South Sudan at the outset of this civil war, and it’s widely reported that the faction of the national army led by President Salva Kiir would not be able to hold onto power without its help, including its artillery and helicopter gun ships.Do you think the international community should identify this as a cross border war of aggression and call for their withdrawal?
Professor Amii Omara Otunnu: Absolutely, absolutely, the international community should be unequivocal on this issue, for various reasons. Uganda certainly has violated the territorial integrity of Southern Sudan.The speaker of South Sudan’s Parliament indicated that in fact Southern Sudan had not invited Ugandan troops there, and so this is certainly a war of aggression, and sadly, in my opinion, the Secretary General of the United Nations had asked Museveni to be a mediator in this issue, and by its definition a mediator should be neutral. In this case General Museveni took a side and has been treating Southern Sudan as a province of Uganda.
KPFA: Why do you think the international community has not called for the UPDF to withdraw?
Amii Omara Otunnu: I think perhaps because Ugandan troops have been involved in various international operations, notably in Central African Republic, in Somalia, and even in Iraq at some point. And so the fear is that if in fact they call for Uganda to withdraw, Uganda might indeed threaten to withdraw its troops from the various operations that it is engaged in internationally – which I think is a mistake, because the international community, by not being unequivocal on this issue, emboldens Museveni to go invade another country and treat it as though it’s a province of Uganda. This indeed exacerbates the problem in Southern Sudan because instead of negotiating peace, the Southern Sudanese now think they can fight it out, and this would make the conflict fester much longer than it would otherwise.
KPFA: Uganda has been a U.S. Ally and military partner since 1986, and a frontline ally in the War on Terror since the Clinton Administration. President Obama told the New York Times that he would U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Joseph Carpio, Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground, training a Ugandan army soldier to serve in Somalia. Photo courtesy AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. consult with Uganda and Ethiopia, both of which border South Sudan, about going in to defend President Kiir’s control of the capital, Juba, but few if any of those calling on Museveni to withdraw are addressing the same appeal to President Obama. Not even Norway.Amii Omara Otunnu: Well, this is the problem that the United States has gotten into. It often mistakes American interests. They think that American interests can be protected by individual strong leaders in Africa who violate all the rules of international law. Surely this runs counter to President Obama’s own pronouncement in Accra Ghana, some years back, ​which gave a lot of hope to various Africans that in fact, for a change, the United States would be on the side of building institutions that would protect the welfare of Africans, protect American long term and genuine security interests.
KPFA: For those who may not know what President Obama said in Accra, Ghana, when he made his first trip to Africa, he said, “Africa doesn’t need strong men. Africa needs strong institutions.”
Amii Omara Otunnu: Institutions, yes.
KPFA: In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.