South Sudan

Riek Machar Should Be President of South Sudan – FDC

Dr Riek Machar

As African leaders deliberate in neighboring Rwanda, pharm on among others ways of finding an ultimate remedy to the undying conflict in South Sudan, Uganda’s opposition leaders have pointed out Kampala as the primary reason for the instability therein.

The conflict which resumed about a week ago, just a year after a peace agreement between the warring factions, is atop the agenda of the ongoing 27th African Union Summit in Kigali.

The leading opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) spokesperson Ibrahim Semujju Nganda said over the weekend that Uganda made a grave mistake sending its army, the UPDF to Sudan when the country’s vice President Dr Riek Machar was closing in on taking over power via a military coup.

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Machar, according to Nganda, should be President of the world’s youngest nation because he had the dominant support, and believes there would be peace there if Uganda had not stopped the coup.

Uganda mobilized its forces and moved to South Sudan a few days after war broke out between the forces of President Kiir and Riek Machar in December 2013. The intervention Kampala said was on the request of President Kiir, and was majorly to protect the country’s major national installations including the Juba International Airport. The UPDF later withdrew from the country in October last year.

“We should never have intervened when Riek Machar was overthrowing government,” Nganda told a radio political talk show on Saturday.

“Because it appeared and we still think so, that the biggest part of the military was with him and part of the SPLA was with him. But because Salva Kiir is a weak leader, the tendency here in Kampala is to support weak leaders so that you continue being the regional leader.

“We should have allowed the dominant group to take over power, supported it and now there would be a new order. It was a postponed problem.”

According to the FDC spokesperson, Uganda made the same mistake earlier in 2007 when it sent its forces to Somalia in the Horn of Africa.

Nganda says nearly a decade down the road, there has not been much success even now that the UPDF prepares to return home.

“We have done no work in Somalia. They keep saying there is now peace but they (AMISOM) are controlling just about 5 percent of Somalia and that was because of heavy presence of guns.

“At the time the dominant group was taking over Somalia, we intervened and stopped it, and now we are saying we are leaving Somalia; who are we leaving it to?

“You cannot go and propel a very weak leader and imagine there will be peace. Our mandate in Somalia was to train the army and the police to fill the gap when we left. The CDF (Gen Katumba Wamala) said recently that up to now there is no army.”

Proponents of the UPDF intervention in South Sudan led by President Yoweri Museveni stressed the need to pacify the neighboring country as this would benefit Uganda’s trade with the new nation.

However, according recent data Uganda’s annual export earnings from South Sudan have since dropped from USD 1billion in 2012 to $300,000 last year.

Nganda says the booming trade then was only because Uganda was supplying food to a country emerging out of war.

Speaking at the same radio talk show, the FDC Secretary General Hon Nathan Nandala Mafabi faulted the Ugandan government for investing heavily in South Sudan with no hope of equal returns.

He noted, “We (Parliament) approved money to go and build a market in Juba but the market was never built, we don’t know where the money went.

“We even tried to stop the second installment but they said since the first one had already been cleared, the second must also go.

Mafabi stressed that Uganda instead of wasting resources on South Sudan with purported economic expectations, should be focusing on creating jobs for its people at home so that they don’t have to opt for South Sudan.

Abdu Katuntu another UPDF official said at the same show that he was surprised that Uganda imagined that a country built on so much divisionism was going to be pacified fast.

President Yoweri Museveni however says the problem of South Sudan should be blamed on both President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Machar.

While speaking over the weekend at the sidelines Kigali AU Summit, Museveni accused the two leaders squandered the good will that was so generously given at the birth of the new nation by him together with regional and international forces.

Museveni proposed three issues that need to be immediately handled including a regional protection force (in the transition period) for Vice President Riek Machar who does not trust SPLA for his protection, no new fighting in Juba and working towards elections and democracy as soon as possible.

“Deal with them carefully and work towards peace and elections. Votes will force them into alliances. Democracy will force them to work together. Now they know they are not accountable to the people,” he said.


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