Uganda: Somalia Backlash


June 10, 2007: For several years the Ugandan government has had a "weapons turn-in" program in the Karamoja tribal region (northeastern Uganda). The Karamoja are cattle herders who occasionally engage in smuggling and raiding. Many tribal warriors acquired cheap automatic weapons, which made their raids a lot more deadly than when all that was used was spears and bows.. Uganda's program has had mixed successes, mainly because the government did not keep pace with the rising price of weapons. As recently as three years ago an AK-47 sold for around $200, which is a lot of money in that part of Africa. Now AK-47s sell for between $500 and $600. So the government will offer more money for weapons. Meanwhile, the guys with guns have turned their attention from rustling to hijacking, and convoys carrying food are being ambushed with greater frequency. The region has been suffering from a drought and more and more people are depending on outside food aid. Food is always a useful commodity, but in an area afflicted by starvation it is a precious commodity. This could be an indication of even more trouble in northeastern Uganda.

June 8, 2007: Due to pressure from the business community, the government is considering opening an embassy in Somalia. Trade and business development are two major reasons.

June 5, 2007: The LRA will have an additional three weeks to move its fighters to the Ri-Kwangba assembly area in Sudan, and the LRA had agreed to make the move. Meanwhile, Sudanese reports of LRA rebels marauding in south Sudan continue to crop up. The South Sudan government wants the Ugandan war settled so that it can get on with its own developmental programs.

June 1, 2007: Many Ugandans are wondering why other African Union states have failed to deploy peacekeepers in Somalia. Early on, Burundi and Nigeria promised to send troops; Ghana and Malawi later said they would send contingents. The mission's high degree of difficulty may be one reason; the nations may not want to get into street fighting in Mogadishu. Some Ugandans are speculating that Uganda should have coordinated with other African nations before quickly committing to send troops. The number of disgruntled voices in Uganda is increasing. Opposition parties are describing the Ugandan deployment as "another Iraq."




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