South Sudan president visits Uganda for talks

South Sudan President Salva Kiir flew to neighboring Uganda for an urgent meeting with his counterpart Yoweri Museveni to discuss the recent fighting and fragile security situation back home, James Mugume, the permanent secretary of ministry of foreign affairs, said.

President Salva Kiir and his delegation met Museveni, the guarantor of South Sudan peace process at State House, Entebbe, about 40 kilometers south of the capital Kampala.

It was the first time President Kiir was flying out of the capital, Juba after a recent violence that broke out after his government troops clashed with the forces loyal to Vice President Riek Machar on July 7. Machar has since not been seen in public and Juba after days of intensive fighting.

Mugume said the two leaders discussed the recent fighting between two rival army factions in Juba, fragile ceasefire, fluid security situation and proposed deployment of the regional force under Intergovernmental Authority on Development to contain any possible violence in the country.

“President Kiir came here today [Saturday]. The two leaders met and discussed bilateral and regional issues. The issue of security situation in South Sudan, Ugandans still trapped in the recent fighting, trade and deployment of a regional force were among issues discussed,” said Mugume without giving more details.

President Kiir has since rejected any plans for the extra deployment of troops or plans by IGAD member states alongside AU to send regional force to South Sudan, saying it as “an invasion”.

“We [Uganda] stand and support the IGAD decision, which was taken on the sidelines of the recent AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda,” said Mugume.

IGAD Heads of State and government on the sidelines of the recent 27th AU summit held in Kigali approved to send a regional protection force to South Sudan with a “robust” mandate to contain the violence there amid criticisms of the failure of a similar UN mission in South Sudan, UNMISS.

South Sudan’s presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny on Thursday said sending of any regional troops into the country without government approval would be an “invasion of South Sudan”

“Deployment of more troops in South Sudan serves as violation of our sovereignty, so we reject the deployment of more foreign troops, if they come from any side whether from African Union or elsewhere, they would be considered as invaders,” said Ateny.

The UN has said that at least 300 people were killed and over 10,000 fled their homes after the recent fighting between two rival army factions in Juba.

The violence raised concerns of the revival of a civil war that gripped the world’s newest nation in December 2013

Although a fragile ceasefire has held since last Monday, UN has warned of the possibility of fresh fighting in the capital.

 

Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id