South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has written to the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, informing him and members of his government that it is time for Ugandan troops to leave the country.
South Sudanese deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Peter Bashir Gbandi, told members of the national legislative assembly on Tuesday that president Kiir had started talking to his Ugandan counterpart on the necessity to start withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in accordance with the security arrangements stipulated in the peace agreement.
The peace deal which was signed in August by president Kiir and his rival, Riek Machar, demanded withdrawal of all foreign forces from South Sudan within 45 days of the signing of the accord.
“The issue of withdrawal of the Ugandan forces in the country has been left to the president and already the office of the president and the ministry of defence had started discussions with authorities in Uganda. Our president has written to Uganda president and today (Tuesday) and I am going to meet the president over the matter,” Gbandi told reporters after addressing legislators on Tuesday.
At the recent workshop in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, attended by senior officers from the rival armies, they agreed that the withdrawal of the UPDF should start on 27 September and end on 10 October.
The second top diplomat at the foreign affairs ministry affirmed commitment of the government to the full implementation of the peace deal and readiness to resolving differences through peaceful dialogue.
“We believe as the government, particularly our president General Salva Kiir Mayardit that issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance of the outcome of political dialogue,” he said.
Gbandi further stressed that this was why the president came back for consultations with the people instead of signing the peace agreement in Addis Ababa in August.
“So I would like to assure that the government and the leadership of the country is fully committed to support the president in the implementation of this peace [agreement] and all of us should not spare any efforts to stand with him in the implementation,” he further appealed.
Ugandan troops in thousands entered the country in December 2013 per invitation by president Kiir to help fight the opposition fighters led by Machar.
They have been mainly protecting the national capital, Juba and Bor, the state capital of Jonglei, 200km from Juba.
Source: South Sudan Tribune(ST)