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Source: Radio Tamazuj

The East African, a major regional newspaper, reports that Ugandan diplomats are preparing a meeting between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar as part of a search for a Ugandan ‘exit strategy’ from South Sudan.

Museveni sent troops to fight alongside forces loyal to President Salva Kiir in December, shortly after the start of the current civil war. The Ugandan leader is now ‘looking for an exit strategy,’ according to the newspaper.

The East African is part of the same publishing group as Daily Nation, Kenya’s main newspaper. Citing political observers and security experts, the paper reports that Uganda’s engagement with SPLM-IO is “informed by the need for an exit strategy.”

A security analyst in the region is quoted by the paper as saying, “President Museveni is looking for an exit strategy. Uganda went in very fast but now realises that things are changing, events are becoming more complicated and he knows it.”

“Also, President Kiir is now a liability,” said the security analyst, who was not identified by name.

Phillip Kasaija, a political science lecturer at Makerere University said, “I think increasingly Uganda is caught between a rock and a hard place. If it stays in South Sudan, more countries within IGAD will be alienated by its stance. If it withdraws now, President Kiir’s government will be history.”

The Ugandan army also reportedly has some major concerns. The newspaper report notes that SPLA has had difficulty paying its own soldiers, amid claims of preferential treatment for Ugandan soldiers.

The report also states, “Two shoot-outs took place last month between UPDF and their SPLA counterparts at Juba International Airport, after an SPLA soldier attacked a Ugandan soldier.”

Museveni to meet Machar

Yesterday SPLM-IO announced they will dispatch a high-level delegation to the Ugandan capital on Tuesday, headed by the group’s deputy chairman Alfred Ladu Gore and including also Dhieu Mathok Diink, Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, Mabior Garang de Mabior, Hussein Mar Nyuot, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and others.

The rebel group claims the visit comes at the request of President Museveni.

Machar refused a meeting with the Ugandan leader in May, but met him on the sidelines of an IGAD summit in June. Since then the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo has reportedly been involved in brokering another meeting.

According to a press statement by James Gatdet Dak, spokesman of the SPLM-IO chairman, the “sole purpose” of the visit to Kampala is to make preparations for an expected face-to-face meeting between Museveni and Machar.             

Dak said the meeting would take place in Ethiopia.

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