Uganda Backing South Sudanese Army in Rebel Fight, Museveni Says

Ugandan troops are helping South Sudanese forces recapture territory seized by rebels since fighting broke out in the country last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said.

“The military of South Sudan are gaining on the ground,” Museveni said at a meeting of regional leaders in the Angolan capital, Luanda today. “They are advancing very well with the support of our troops.”

Uganda deployed its army in South Sudan last month after violence erupted when President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting to stage a coup. Machar denies the charge. The death toll from the fighting is approaching 10,000, according to the International Crisis Group, while 80,000 have fled to countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Government forces last week recaptured Bentiu, capital of oil-rich Unity state, while both sides claimed yesterday they control Malakal, capital of neighboring Upper Nile state. Negotiators who began talks on a cease-fire three days ago have yet to reach an agreement on ending the four-week-old conflict.

Museveni spoke at a summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, as 12-member inter-governmental organization working to end conflict in eastern and central Africa, where the Ugandan leader handed over the chairmanship of the organization to Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.

The conference plans to focus on ending fighting in the member states of South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo during its two-year leadership, Dos Santos said.

“The conflicts in the DRC, South Sudan and Central African Republic worry not just us in the region, but also Africa as a whole,” he said. “These conflicts prevent social and economic development on the continent.”

The ICGLR’s other members are Burundi, Congo Republic, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

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