Kampala/Juba, March 14, 2018 (SSNA) — A Lira Town-based Ugandan pastor has been arrested on suspicious of recruiting Ugandan youth for the Sudan People’s Liberation army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO). A Ugandan military commander alleged in a statement that the detained pastor even represented South Sudanese rebels in peace talks held on the 18th December 2017 in Ethiopia.
The armed opposition calls the allegation “false.”
It has emerged that a commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) told the Daily Monitor (Uganda) that they have imprisoned a pastor who goes by the name Jorom Opio and that Uganda’s police and UPDF 4th Division intelligence unit are working on a joint investigation.
However, SPLA-IO deputy spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel denied the alleged recruitment of Ugandan youth.
“The SPLA IO strongly refutes the accusation made by the UPDF 4th Division Commander, Brig. Emmanuel Kanyesigye linking a Ugandan pastor Jorom Opio to the people’s movement (SPLM/A IO),” Lam said.
The rebel spokesman questioned the motive behind the accusation and said Uganda should already know who represented the SPLA-IO in December 2018 HLRF talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“Furthermore, Brig. Kanyesigye in his accusation continued alleging that the so-called Pastor Jorom Opio represented the SPLA IO last year in the peace talks that resulted in the signed cessation of hostilities (COH) on 21/12/2017. This is completely false. The government of Uganda, being a member of the IGAD, knows exactly who represented the SPLM/A IO in the HLRF since it started on 18/12/2017,” Lam explained, adding, “Besides the SPLA IO does not recruit foreigners nor does it operate abroad. The South Sudanese who joined the SPLA-IO do so voluntarily to bring about reforms to South Sudan under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar. This requires personal sacrifice.”
Col. Lam said Uganda should not accuse the rebel movement, saying the armed opposition respects Uganda for hosting and protecting millions of South Sudanese who fled the country due to the ongoing civil war.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is the main regional ally of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and publicly sent his troops to South Sudan to fight alongside South Sudan’s troops against the SPLA-IO.