Uganda: A Little Off The Top

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April 8, 2011: Uganda is an upstream Nile River nation. The upstream nations are now confronting downstream nations Egypt and Sudan (northern Sudan) over waster distribution rights. Ethiopia has taken the lead in organizing the other upstream nations (Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and soon Southern Sudan). Ethiopia has also been offering a few new diplomatic solutions that its government hopes will avoid open conflict over water issues. The Ugandan government has been a strong supporter of a new water rights treaty. But like Ethiopia, it wants to reach a deal everyone can live with without resort to war. The government acknowledged that it has been holding discussions with Egypt’s interim government over Nile water rights. At a recent meeting, the government reported that it told an Egyptian diplomatic delegation that Uganda would not support an agreement that harmed Egypt.

April 7, 2011: Slowly but surely new information is leaking out about the jet fighter deal that opposition politicians allege involves deep corruption in the government. The government has admitted that it has bought eight jet fighters from Russia for about $93 million each. The fighters will be used to protect Uganda’s oil fields around Lake Albert. Presumably, oil revenues will pay for the fighters. The price being paid is steep for Russian jets. This is why commentators are speculating that more aircraft are involved and that the deal includes spares, training, and maintenance support. But the high price usually means there is a large amount allocated for bribes. The government also stated that it had collaborated with Algeria in the purchase (which presumably means Algeria bought more jets and Uganda got a pricing break because of a larger, combined order). Buying fighters to provide a minimal level of protection to oil production facilities does make sense, but there is also another interpretation. Southern Sudan, which becomes a separate nation in July 2011, is a Ugandan ally. The Ugandan jets could also provide Southern Sudan with a small amount of air defense, should Sudan and Southern Sudan go to war.

April 6, 2011: Opposition politicians are screaming because the government admitted that it has already spent around $400 million on Russian jet fighters. The money came from a supplementary budget fund. The government wants parliament to approve the expenditure retroactively.

March 31, 2011: A senior Ugandan Army colonel (who once commanded the Ugandan peacekeeping contingent in Somalia) was promoted to brigadier general. He has been selected to command the African Union’s East Africa Standby Brigade. The East Africa Standby Brigade (also called East Africa Standby Force) has units from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Djibouti, Seychelles, and the Comoros Islands.

March 29, 2011: Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) senior commander Joseph Kony has left the Central African Republic (CAR) and returned to the Congo. It's believed that Kony is now somewhere in the northeastern Congo, probably in Orientale Province. Kony may have arrived in early March.

March 28, 2011: The arrest of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the Congo is another indication that the ADF is regrouping. The Congolese Army made the arrests then turned the prisoners over to the Ugandan Army. The government has argued that the ADF has ties to both the government of Sudan (northern Sudan) and Somalia’s radical Muslim Al Shabaab organization.

March 21, 2011: Ugandan media reported that the Ugandan Army, the Congolese Army, and UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo are considering launching a new operation against LRA cadres in the Congo. Congolese civilians have complained about an increase in LRA activity in eastern Congo. The UN recently estimated that between 35 and 40 Congolese civilians had been kidnapped by the LRA in a time period from late February to mid-March.

March 15, 2011: The Central African Republic reported that LRA rebels killed six people in an attack on the town of Nzako. The attack took place March 13. LRA rebels attacked and looted Nzako in February 2010

 

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