South Sudan President Kiir orders Uganda army to withdraw.
UPDF soldier sits on top of an armored vehicle in the road of Lira-Pader in northern Uganda, January 2, 2005. (Reuters)
In his briefing to the Council of Ministers meeting which he chaired on Friday, Machar said Kiir had already instructed the SPLA Chief of Staff, Lt. General Oyai Deng Ajak to communicate the order to his Uganda army counter-part in Kampala. He said the decision was reached since June 7, 2008 in the Southern Sudan Security Committee meeting chaired by His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit himself. Machar said he was misquoted by Uganda press that wrongly connected his statement in the Southern Sudan parliament on Monday with the decision of the government to expel the Ugandan army from the territory of Southern Sudan. He explained that he was just informing the Parliament about the government's decision to expel the UPDF and not him in particular ordering the UPDF to withdraw on that day. Machar further explained that the decision to expel the UPDF was even reached in his absence while he was still in Khartoum on official mission. He described the government of Uganda as the "best friend" of Southern Sudan in the region. Machar however pointed out that there was no any operational protocol to keep the UPDF in Southern Sudan, saying they came to Sudan through their agreement with the Khartoum government which expired since 2006. Machar added that the SPLA is now an organized army that should take charge of security in the territory of Southern Sudan. UGANDAN OFFICIAL CONFIRMS MATERIAL EVIDENCES Reacting to the material evidences found near the dead person by the CHMT verification team that implicated the UPDF of the killing in Pageri Payam on June 14, Machar said the Uganda Consul General in Juba, Busho Ndinyenka, confirmed that the materials found belong to UPDF. Machar said Busho explained to him that the materials just got lost from the UPDF in pursuit of the LRA in the area. The Vice President further explained that when the UPDF members of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT) reportedly tried to deny the material evidences during the verification exercise the other members from five African countries including the SPLA members confronted the UPDF members with the evidences. The CHMT membership comprises of military officers from a number of African countries that include Republic of South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Southern Sudan and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). He said the verification exercise was purely an African exercise. The CHMT was established in accordance with the agreement signed by the Uganda government and the LRA to monitor any violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by the two parties in Juba two years ago on August 26, 2006. The Team is led by a SPLA senior military officer, Major General Wilson Deng Kuoirot. The CHMT earlier carried out investigations into the deadly attack on Nabanga Payam in Western Equatoria state in which the report submitted to the Chief Mediator accused the LRA of that incident. In the verification report submitted to office of the Chief Mediator, the CHMT observed that evidences of materials found at the scene where the body of the killed person was found implicate the UPDF masquerading as LRA. A document was also found near the dead person with names of suspected UPDF soldiers indicating "Section II, Platoon I, 'A' Coy", with full names and military ranks including army numbers. The document's source seems to have been obtained from a health center where the soldiers might have conducted a medical checkup, probably in Uganda. The CHMT Leader recommends that a further investigation be carried out to identify the culprits and apprehend them. The Government of Southern Sudan's Council of Ministers on Friday expressed the necessity to enlighten the press on the decision of the government to expel the UPDF from Southern Sudan, saying it was unfortunate that the press criticized the Vice President as if the decision was reached by him alone. (ST)
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