Kampala, Uganda (PANA) - President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on Thursday hosted President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, and the two shared notes on progress of the South Sudan’s peace process, the Ugandan president has said.
South Sudan has been ravaged by war since late 2013, when fighters loyal to the then vice president, Dr Riek Machar, first clashed with the government forces loyal to Kiir.
Machar then fled the country and eventually settled in South Africa, where he has been since. “I have met His Excellency, Salva Kiir, this morning at State House Entebbe. He briefed me on the progress of implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement. Despite a few challenges, there is progress. I urge all parties to work towards peace and stability,” Museveni tweeted after the meeting.
A number of peace initiatives has been attempted to reunite two former colleagues – Kiir and Machar – with the latest being in September last year when the two principals signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, aimed at ending Machar’s exile and re-integrating him into government.
Machar promised to return to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, but this has been delayed by issue after issue until now. Uganda responded fast when war broke out in December 2013, sending in troops which helped keep Kiir in power in Juba, leading Machar and his colleagues to criticise Uganda’s intervention.
Since the fighting broke out in South Sudan in 2013, over half a million of South Sudan’s 12.5 million people have fled to Uganda as refugees, leading to one the world’s biggest refugee operations in Uganda.
Uganda, a country of about 40 million people with approximately 183 individuals per square kilometer, hosts a total of over 1.2 million refugees, drawn from among other countries Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Eritrea.
In the war of independence that the South Sudanese fought against the Sudan, Uganda under Museveni was a key partner, which was always accused by Sudan of supporting the then rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army led by Col John Garang, who died in July 2005 shortly after his rebel outfit signed a peace agreement with Sudan to end the fighting and accord South Sudan semi-autonomous status.
Garang died on a chopper belonging to Uganda’s Museveni, which was flying him back to Juba, South Sudan, after meeting Museveni in Uganda.
Garang’s compatriots, in a referendum that was part of the peace agreement the SPLA under Garang’s leadership signed with Khartoum, Sudan, voted to break away from Sudan and form the independent republic of South Sudan in 2011.
-0- PANA EM/VAO 4April2019