What next as Uganda-drc re­la­tions hit a new low fol­low­ing Mu­sev­eni at­tack?

The East African - - NEWS - By DICTA ASIIMWE Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

RE­LA­TIONS BE­TWEEN Uganda and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo ap­pear to have hit an­other all-time low as Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni sin­gled out his west­ern neigh­bour for “pre­serv­ing” the rebel Al­lied Demo­cratic Forces (ADF).

Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni told Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day how DRC and the United Na­tions were re­spon­si­ble for the survival of the ADF, a rebel out­fit linked to Is­lamic ex­trem­ists that ter­rorised parts of west­ern Uganda through the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The ADF, whose leader Jamil Mukulu was ar­raigned be­fore the in­ter­na­tional crimes di­vi­sion of the High Court two weeks ago, but has been in Uganda Po­lice’s cus­tody since 2015, is al­legedly to blame for all the high pro­file mur­ders that have taken place since 2012.

Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni blames the rebel out­fit for the mur­ders of seven Mus­lim cler­ics, as­sas­si­nated in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try be­tween 2012 and 2016, as well as those of for­mer As­sis­tant In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice An­drew Felix Kawesi who was mur­dered in broad day light on March 17 last year.

Other mur­ders that the pres­i­dent says were ex­e­cuted by ADF in­clude that of Ma­jor Muhammed Kig­gundu, a for­mer ADF com­man­der turned gov­ern­ment col­lab­o­ra­tor and Joan Kagezi a for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic rose­cu­tions, who at the time of her mur­der in 2015, was lead­ing the trial of sus­pects who were later con­victed for bomb­ing Kam­pala in 2010.

The pres­i­dent also blames the ADF for the death of Su­san Ma­gara, who was kid­napped, kept for weeks and later killed. Her body was ound in the Wak­iso district area, af­ter her fam­ily had paid a ran­som.

To back his the­ory of the ADF in DRC, Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni says the se­cu­rity forces cur­rently have 90 sus­pects in cus­tody, while two of Ms Ma­gara’s mur­der­ers were also killed.

The pres­i­dent’s at­tack on the Kin­shasa gov­ern­ment in the terms he did in­di­cates a new low in re­la­tions. It also opens the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­panded re­de­ploy­ment of Ugan­dan forces into the DRC.

In De­cem­ber 2017, the Uganda Peo­ple’s De­fence Forces (UPDF) made an out of the blue foray into the DRC. The UPDF later re­ported that they had killed 100 ADF in­sur­gents, in ad­di­tion to de­stroy­ing eight camps of the rebel out­fit.

Uganda and DRC have en­joyed an on-off re­la­tion­ship over the bet­ter part of the past two-

and-a-half decades.

The Eastafrican can re­port that while the two coun­tries re-opened diplo­matic mis­sions in each-oth­ers’ cap­i­tals, DRC’S mis­sion in Kam­pala has not had a sub­stan­tive am­bas­sador for the past two years fol­low­ing the trans­fer of the for­mer Am­bas­sador to China.

The Charge de Af­fairs, cur­rently hold­ing fort as act­ing am­bas­sador was re­port­edly in Kin­shasa when The East African en­quired for com­ments.

Of­fi­cials at Uganda’s Min­istry of For­eign af­fairs re­main cagey about whether a broad pol­icy po­si­tion ex­ists within gov­ern­ment on the re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

The UPDF first de­ployed in 1996 to pur­sue sus­pected ADF rebels fol­low­ing an at­tack by the rebel on the west­ern bor­der town of Mpondwe in Kas­ese district. The ADF was later to wreak havoc in a bru­tal guer­rilla cam­paign in many dis­tricts of the west mainly Kas­ese, Bundibu­gyo, Kaba­role and Kamwenge.

Kam­pala com­plains that Congo has for long har­boured hos­tile forces as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the in­cur­sions. The lat­est at­tacks could see a re­de­ploy­ment ob­servers say.

Pic­ture: AFP

Ugan­dan Al­lied Demo­cratic Front rebel leader Jamil Mukulu.

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