“It has been agreed that up to the 10th of October, the UPDF forces will be out of the country. The timeline of their withdrawal is stated between 27th, up to 10th of October,” Lieutenant General Malek Ruben, deputy chief of general staff for logistics,” announced on Tuesday.
According to the recently signed peace agreement to end the 21-month long civil war, all foreign forces allied to both the government and the opposition sides are supposed to leave the country within 45 days after the signing of the peace agreement.
Besides UPDF, Sudanese rebel forces inside South Sudan will be demobilized and repatriated back to Sudan in accordance with the peace deal.
UPDF came to the country in December 2013 when political differences over reforms within the leadership of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) turned violent.
The initial objective on deployment of the Ugandan troops was to evacuate Ugandan nationals in South Sudan from the country and provide protection to key installations and institutions, including the airports in Juba and other hot spot areas of the country. However, UPDF later on directly interfered in military combat against the rebels.
The foreign troops’ withdrawal from the country was always one of the contentious matters at the start of negotiations, but General Ruben told reporters on Tuesday that the issue was resolved during the discussions at the ceasefire workshop attended by the commanders from the warring sides last week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. This is also in accordance with implementation of the security arrangements as provided for in the peace agreement.
Ugandan forces for the past 21 months of the war have been providing partial defence of the national capital, Juba, and the neighbouring Jonglei state’s capital, Bor, and have used superiority of their military hardware including air force in which it has been accused of dropping cluster bombs on rebel forces.
The military officer, however, pointed out that Ugandan troops deployed in Western Equatoria state will not be removed, because they are under a separate arrangement.
“The ones of Western Equatoria are not affected within this agreement; it’s a quadruple arrangement connecting Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Uganda and Congo plus the American forces,” he said.
“These are in pursuit of the Regional Alliance Strategic Agreement to pursue the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army],” he added.