President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reiterated his call for peaceful elections in South Sudan if the country is to gain lasting peace.
Museveni made the call Wednesday while meeting the Speaker of South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), Jemma Nunu Kumba, at State House Entebbe.
“If you conduct elections, the nation will not have arguments to answer the questions of ‘who and what’ regarding the governance of the country because the elections minimize arguments and internal quarrels,” said the President, adding that elections are an approval for legitimacy expression.
For almost eight years, South Sudan has been embroiled in a vicious war caused by jostling for political supremacy between President Salva Kiir and his current first vice president, Riek Machar. Ever since the country gained independence in 2011, it has never held presidential elections partly due to the ongoing war.
According to the Revitalized Peace Agreement that was signed in 2018, the country is supposed to hold elections in 2023 but all indications are that this might not be possible because of the failure to meet key milestones of the peace agreement, including the total silencing of guns and the unification forces to form a national army.
President Museveni emphasized that the “who and what” questions make the political situation difficult.
Speaker Kumba assured Museveni that South Sudan is at peace. The meeting was also attended by the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Anita Among, and her Deputy, Thomas Tayebwa.
Relatedly, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has beefed up security on the Uganda – South Sudan border following reported attacks by armed cattle raiders suspected to be from South Sudan.
Last Saturday the UPDF and SSPDF clashed in Chubi in Owinykibul, Magwi County. One SSPDF soldier was killed and two others injured. Following the clashes, the South Sudan authorities deployed SSPDF reinforcements along the border with Uganda to cool down tensions.
Last week, residents of Pogee accused the UPDF of encroaching into South Sudan territory and carrying out patrols which caused panic.
Brig. William Bainomugisha, the UPDF 5th Division commander, on Monday, said the deployment came after a meeting between residents of the affected areas and security agencies.
The affected areas include Nyimur, Potika, and Agoro sub-counties in Lamwo District in northern Uganda along the border with South Sudan.
“Residents wanted assurance from us [about security] and we have done that. Formerly, those (border) areas were peaceful but we have had to beef up security due to attacks by gunmen,” Brig Bainomugisha said.
“Some of them (gunmen) are from South Sudan. These groups sneak in here and cause insecurity,” he added.
Brig. Bainomugisha said the army has dispatched up to three battalions of soldiers to the border, which stretches across Lamwo, Kitgum, and Agago districts.
During the security meeting at Nyimur Sub-county headquarters last week, local leaders said several residents have lost their lives and hundreds of cattle.
According to Moses Bali, the Local Council 3 chairman, the raiders storm villages and forcing locals to flee their homes before rounding up the cattle and fleeing with them.
“We are hopeful that the deployment of armed security personnel will calm the situation because the impact has been disastrous in the past month. In some homes, people lock themselves inside their houses with animals for fear of being attacked,” Bali said.
Hilary Onek, Uganda’s minister of relief, disaster preparedness, and refugees, who is also the Lamwo County MP, said the raids hinder livestock farming.