A phased withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) will take place in not less than two months, the minister for Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa has disclosed.
Speaking to the press from the Foreign Affairs Ministry offices on Tuesday morning, Kutesa said the UPDF will withdraw as soon as the African force on emergency response has been constituted and endorsed by the security council of the African Union.
The emergency force termed the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACRIC) is the current suggestion to replace the UPDF in South Sudan, where more than 1000 people have been killed and half a million other displaced by fighting that broke out in December last year.
The force is comprised of troops from different African countries that have pledged to contribute. Uganda is among the countries contributing an enhanced battalion of 1000 soldiers joined by other countries like Algeria that pledged to airlift the soldiers and weapons. Other countries that pledged to contribute troops are South Africa, Angola, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Republic of Guinea.
The force, if approved, will take over UPDF’s role of securing key installations of the government, defending the legitimate government and averting any potential risk to human life in the country.
The development comes a week after the UPDF spokesperson told local media that the withdrawal of the UPDF forces from South Sudan will take a process and not mere calls from foreign governments.
UPDF has been in South Sudan for close to two months now after being called upon by the South Sudan government to help secure its key installations.
However, there have been calls made by the rebel forces for the withdrawal of the UPDF before talks can progress in Addis Ababa. The calls have been echoed by the US government and the Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn.