The South Sudanese Ambassador Samuel Luate Lominsuk has confirmed that indeed the South Sudan government is footing the fuel and oil costs of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in South Sudan.
The confirmation from the ambassador follows in a line of explanations that the UPDF has been giving for its continued stay and guarding of government installations in the war-torn nation of South Sudan.
Conflicting statements had earlier been issued to the media by both governments on who is funding the operations of the UPDF in South Sudan.
However in a closed session of a defence committee meeting at Parliament, UPDF revealed that they were getting extra funding from the South Sudan government for their ‘mobility costs’. Documents tabled to the MP’s with restricted access place the figure that has so far been spent by the army at 22 billion shillings for the past three months.
The South Sudan ambassador now offers new insight into the highly secretive Status of Forces Agreement signed between the two countries saying that the UPDF is only catering for the salaries of soldiers while the South Sudan government handles the rest of the fees.
The ambassador speaking from his residence to URN in an interview said the government of South Sudan is helping the UPDF to ‘move in South Sudan’ because of the ‘geographically challenging’ terrain that the forces are operating in.
URN has also seen figures from the South Sudan budget that indicate a 9% increase in security spending to bring the percentage of the budget spent on security to 56%, representing 1.8billion dollars (4.7 trillion Uganda shillings).
The UPDF will continue to foot the wage bill of the soldiers in South Sudan.
Calls to the UPDF spokesperson Paddy Ankunda to comment on the matter went unanswered.
UPDF entered South Sudan in December to help create a safe evacuation route for Ugandans. However, a status of forces agreement was reached between South Sudan and Uganda for the soldiers to also protect key government installations – which they are still doing.
South Sudan erupted into conflict after a group of soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar fought a pitched gun fight with President Salva Kiir guards in the presidential guard barracks. The fire fight was the cue for a full scale civil war stretching into its 8th month now.