UPDF seeks additional US$5.2m to fund South Sudan operations

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Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda’s Defence Minister

The Ugandan government is seeking parliamentary approval for an additional $5.2m (16.2bn UGX) to fund operations of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces in South Sudan in 2015.

Uganda sent its troops to South Sudan in December 2013 when war broke out between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar.

The UPDF fought alongside government soldiers and are now protecting government installations. While government said it would pull out in April 2014, its has now spent 15 months in the war torn country. While appearing before Parliament’s Defence Committee, the Minister of Defence, Crispus Kiyonga and other UPDF officials tabled the financial implication of UPDF’s stay in South Sudan, in the financial year 2015/2016.

A breakdown of the items where the money will be spent include: hot meals 7.1billion Shillings, dry rations 684million, fuel and lubricants for land forces 827million Shillings, vehicle maintenance 600million Shillings, protective gear like body armour and helmets 3.9million shillings among others.

Others include loading and off-loading equipment 160million, fuel-jet A1-top up 1.8million, accommodation for pilots 126million, drugs and sundries-top up 152million and 700million for research and information.

The money is however, only a percentage of a bigger chunk of money the army could afford to disclose as the bulk of the financing of the operations in South Sudan is normally listed under classified expenditure.

This prompted some MPs sitting on the defence committee including Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi, Abongi County MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo and Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo, to accuse the defence ministry of concealing information on the UPDF stay in South Sudan and the conflicting statements issued by both the Ugandan and South Sudan governments on the army funding.

The MPs demanded that the defence committee that approves the UPDF budget deserves to access the full budget so far spent on South Sudan before the coming year budget is approved.

Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi noted the press statements that quoted South Sudan government officials saying that UPDF was being funded by the South Sudan government for its stay in the country.

“Either Ugandan government or South Sudan government is telling us lies about UPDF”, said MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo.   However, Defence Minister, Crispus Kiyonga noted that the South Sudan classified expenditure is accessed by both the Auditor General and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

“Government does not want to endanger lives of the troops in South Sudan by giving full details of the mission,” he said.