By Spy Uganda
The South Sudan chief of defence forces, Gen Johnson Juma Okot, led a high-profile delegation of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) to meet their Ugandan counterparts in Gulu City on Friday.
The meeting was held at the 4th Division Barracks and attended by Lt Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) deputy chief of defence forces, the Land Force commander, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, and Maj Gen Paul Lokech, a senior military officer, among others.
The meeting was meant to settle the recent series of clashes between the two forces at their common borderlines, cause reconciliation and derive a way forward to peaceful coexistence between the two countries.
“We have come here to make peace. How do we put our hands together and chat the best way forward for us to live together, take care of our countries and authorities,” Gen Okot said.
Gen Okot noted that it was unfortunate to have people misunderstand the wealth of historical relations between the two countries by causing conflicts that would, in other words, risk the lives to thousands of South Sudanese refugees that are currently settled in Uganda.
“We have been so privileged that Uganda is providing protection to our displaced people in northern Uganda. Our children have been able to go to school, pursue their welfare, including their health,” he added.
The meeting between the two top army commanders comes after Ugandan forces attacked a village in Eastern Equatoria state killing two members of the South Sudan army in October.
The development comes after at least four South Sudanese soldiers were killed by their counterparts from Uganda over the last month, a military spokesman said Tuesday.
Lul Ruia Koang, spokesperson for the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF) said the incident between SSPDF forces and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) happened after the two sides exchanged fire in a contested border area in the southern parts of the country.
“UPDF soldiers opened fire on our soldiers in Buya and as a result, they killed four on the spot and wounded another,” the spokesperson said.
The disputed area is claimed by communities of Kajo-Keji county of Central Equatoria state in South Sudan and their neighbours from Yumbe district of Uganda.
Koang said the SSPDF soldiers were conducting a foot patrol to enforce cross-border movement restrictions at the time of the clashes.
“The area where our servicemen were killed is a disputed area,” the spokesperson said, adding that calm has since returned to the region after the two governments agreed to investigate the cause of the fighting.
“We have requested for an investigation to be conducted so that we know why they opened fire on soldiers who were on foot patrol and does not pose any threat to them,” he said.