MP, Lubaga South, Uganda.
April 9, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Whatever President Museveni’s government says, the continued stay of Ugandan troops in South Sudan grossly violates international law and must be urgently reviewed.
Fighting broke out in mid-December 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those faithful to his former vice president Dr Riek Machar. Within five days, Uganda had been sucked into the war, sending in troops under Col Kayanja Muhanga.
It is true that a motion seeking the troops’ deployment was moved by the minister of defence, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, and was passed on January 14, 2014 in purported compliance with Article 210 (d) of the Ugandan constitution.
However, by the time parliament pronounced itself, the Ugandan troops had already been deployed in South Sudan. The leader of opposition in parliament, Wafula Ogutu, strongly opposed the circumstances under which the troops had gone in. However, parliament went on to play a window-dressing role in passing the motion on the strength of government’s dominant numbers of MPs.
Worst of all, debate on the issue, was stifled. Ugandan authorities had previously claimed that their forces were in South Sudan only to evacuate their citizens and protect the airport as well as the presidential palace.
The question people continue to ask is why Uganda rushed in just after the spark of the war. When parliament debated this issue on January 14, 2014, it asked government to show it a copy of the letter that invited our troops to South Sudan, but since then, the letter has never been seen.
Therefore, the agreement signed between South Sudan and Uganda cannot be enough justification for the deployment of our troops because it had to be subjected to parliamentary approval.
Consent for the Ugandan troops to enter another state exists ‘inwards’ but there is no documentary evidence to back it. Others have said that the written agreement between Uganda and South Sudan is good enough to be acceptable in accordance with international law. But under the Ugandan constitution, parliamentary approval for such a giant deal is a prerequisite as it also involves expenditure from the consolidated fund.
Who pays for the UPDF’s [Uganda People’s Defence Forces] stay in South Sudan? South Sudan claims to be paying for only UPDF’s internal movement. With reference to Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, South Sudan’s entry into a military cooperation with another state like Uganda is well-covered under the declaration on the principles of international law, concerning friendly relations and cooperation among states in accordance with the UN charter.
While it is true that the civil war in South Sudan is catastrophic to the living conditions of Ugandans, it is equally true that the way forward shouldn’t be reduced to combatant action. As a member of the UN General Assembly, Uganda knows that under the doctrine of state responsibility, it can invoke UN Resolution No. 3314 to internationally address the safety of its citizens in South Sudan through arbitration.
It can also seek redress from the International Court of Justice on the same matter to demand for reparations with reference to the case of DRC versus Uganda (2005).
There is a problem in South Sudan. It appears that both sides in the South Sudan civil war are planning for the conflict to continue. The agreements signed on the cessation of hostilities in Addis Ababa have not reached any meaningful end. It was recently remarked that the Ugandan soldiers are busy preparing for fresh war upon learning that the general elections in South Sudan could be extended for another three years from now.
Elections in South Sudan are necessary and shouldn’t be postponed because they are an appropriate solution to the ongoing war. If organized well, they could bring the present state of unrest to an end.
Under the present state of affairs, Uganda’s continued stay in South Sudan without time limit is a threat to international law. After all, Uganda does not have a locus standi to plead self-defence in the South Sudan conflict. Its presence is dependent on consent from South Sudan.
The Igad [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] in conjunction with the UN Peace Mission should constitute a new humanitarian law force to replace the Ugandan troops in South Sudan.
The Security Council should issue directives on the security situation in that country before the situation becomes uncontrollable. Once that is done, Uganda’s continued stay in South Sudan would be in conflict with international law.
John-Ken Lukyamuzi is the MP for Lubaga South and Conservative Party president.