S. Sudan extends Ugandan troops' stay

KAMPALA – Uganda and South Sudan have renewed a memo of understanding on military assistance, allowing Ugandan troops to stay in the war-ravaged country for another four months.

"Discussions determined the relevance of the renewal of the Military Assistance Agreement signed earlier by the two governments," Maj. Henry Obbo, deputy spokesman for the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF), told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga and his South Sudanese counterpart, Koul Manyang Juuk, formally renewed the agreement late Tuesday at Ugandan Defense Ministry headquarters.

Uganda sent troops to South Sudan after the latter country slid into chaos in December of 2014 when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow his regime.

"We commend the UPDF troops for their capabilities, patiently built over the years, which they are willing to selflessly share with their neighbors in need," Juuk was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Ugandan Defense Ministry.

"If it were not for Uganda's immediate intervention in the South Sudan conflict, there would now be instability in the whole region," Juuk asserted.

Kiir and Machar signed a power-sharing deal in Addis Ababa late Sunday in a bid to end the crisis.

The agreement calls for the formation of a transitional government, lays down guidelines for power-sharing, and specifies security arrangements.

It was the third time for South Sudan to request an extension of the Ugandan troop presence.

The UPDF deployment in South Sudan was last extended in October of 2014.

"We are there by invitation, so if the situation gets better, they will ask us to leave. If not, we'll stay until the situation improves," Obbo told AA.

He declined, however, to give the exact number of Ugandan troops currently on the ground in South Sudan, saying merely that they were stationed in South Sudanese capital Juba, Nisitu (some 10km south of Juba) and Bor, the provincial capital of Jonglei State.

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