Uganda will pull out its troops from neighboring South Sudan as soon as an African emergency force (ACIRC) is ready to take over.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa said on February 18 that the country “has no desire to keep her troops on South Sudan soil longer than it is necessary.”
“It is in that context that Uganda has proposed, and the government of South Sudan agrees, on the deployment of ACIRC, consistent with the decision of the African Union in January,” the Ugandan minister told reporters.
He also said the deployment of ACIRC in South Sudan would facilitate Uganda’s withdrawal of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).
The announcement came after opposition groups pressured the Ugandan government over the troops deployment in South Sudan, saying it has turned the UPDF into mercenaries.
The UPDF was deployed in Juba in December last year after fighting erupted between troops of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The conflict soon turned into an all-out war between the South Sudanese army and defectors, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president’s tribe against Machar’s.
The violence continues in South Sudan despite a ceasefire signed on January 23 to end weeks of heavy fighting which led to the death of thousands of people in the world’s youngest nation.
The international community has repeatedly urged both sides to respect the ceasefire.
The violence has also displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes.