By Nangayi Guyson in Kampala, Uganda
The relationship between Uganda and Sudan has continued to deteriorate this year after the two countries started accusing each other of supporting rebel groups against their governments.
In January this year, Sudanese rebel forces and opposition groups signed an accord in Kampala calling for the toppling of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s regime. Some of the opposition alliances that met in Kampala were National Consensus Forces (NCF), National Umma Party (NUP), and the armed groups included SPLM-N, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur and Minni Minnawi.
The meeting of rebels in Kampala Prompted the Sudanese government through the speaker of the country’s national assembly, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, to announce that Sudan is also working with opposition groups in Uganda to bring about positive political influence to the country but did not mention which opposition groups it was working with or going to support.
Sudan also went ahead as saying the government would also close Uganda’s Embassy in Khartoum to end its relationship with the Country.
According to Sudan tribune newspapers, the Sudanese government has again accused Uganda of undermining regional security by harboring and supporting anti-Khartoum rebel movements.
The spokesman of Sudan’s Foreign Ministry Abu-Bakr al-Sideeg said on Saturday that Kampala’s stances have become incomprehensible especially since Khartoum has repeatedly called on Uganda to refrain from backing Sudanese insurgents and interfering in the country’s affairs.
The Sudanese diplomat noted the signed protocol on security, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region which he said obligates all countries in the region including Uganda not to cooperate with the rebels.
In response to Sudan’s accusations, Uganda Foreign affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, said the country has no intentions of over throwing the Sudanese government and is not supporting any rebel group to change the regime there. He added that even if Sudan supports opposition groups in the country, it will have no chance to succeed in it.
Khartoum has lodged several complaints with the African Union (AU) and other regional blocs against Uganda saying it is supporting regime change in Sudan.
The relationship between Sudan and Uganda deteriorated some years back when Kampala accused Khartoum of supporting the rebel Lord Resistance Army (LRA) which operates in South Sudan’s Western Equatorial and neighbouring countries of Congo and Central African Republic.
The Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter tried to mediate a peace accord between Sudan and Uganda in Dec. 8, 1999, in which the two countries agreed to take steps to restore diplomatic relations and promote peace in the region but this peace accord seemed to have not worked and since then there has been no any serious Bi-literal relationships between the two nations.
In May 2012, President Museveni said they have intelligence that LRA rebels were planning a major offensive and warned Sudan over reports saying they received weapons from Sudan but she denied the allegations.
Two years ago US President Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 well equipped US troops to Uganda to help regional forces capture or kill – Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA but since then there is no hope that they may come closer to him. Uganda believes Kony’s LRA has hiding places in Sudan and Central Africa Republic
To mount pressure on Khartoum to stop its alleged support to the LRA rebels, Uganda for more than 2 years, has opened its territory for various Sudanese rebel groups.
Sudan had admitted in the past using the LRA rebels to fight the insurgency in southern Sudan before the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005 with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which was supported by the Ugandan government.
The SPLM are now the governing party of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011.
Political relations between South Sudan and Uganda have been friendly for several decades, in contrast to Kampala’s relations with the Khartoum government, which have often been strained. One reason for this is that Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, is alleged to have provided support to the LRA, which terrorized northern Uganda for many years.
South Sudan and Uganda have continued to enjoy relativelystrong cultural, political, and economic ties. When South Sudan neared independence, both states begun to take advantage of increased opportunities for trade, development and educational exchanges which has affected Sudan.
Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, was a personal friend of South Sudan rebel leader John Garang who died in a plane crash and supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
South Sudan and Uganda share cultural, religious, and economic ties. Intermarriage, cross-border migration and the prevalence of Christianity exist on both sides of the border.