Uganda: Let Them Eat Guns

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May 2, 2011: Protests in the capital, Kampala, escalated on April 28 and began to subside April 30. In one demonstration (April 29) two people were killed as protesters fought with police. Military police were brought in to confront the demonstrators. Over 100 people were injured in the demonstrations. Opposition politicians called for the removal of president Yoweri Museveni and compared him to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. One opposition group described the protests as an Egyptian-type uprising against a dictator. The repeated arrests and releases of opposition leader Kizza Besigye (see report of April 21) certainly heightened the passions of Museveni's critics and contributed to the rise in violence. Critics of the government are also complaining about increased inflation, higher food prices, and a spike in fuel prices.

April 25, 2011: UN investigators reported that the LRA cadres remaining in the Central African Republic (CAR) continue to abduct children and use them in its operations. The LRA has a long record of using the men, women, and children it kidnaps to carry food and ammunition. The UN investigation focused on abducting children in the CAR and using them as soldiers, spies, porters (bearers) and even sex slaves.

April 23, 2011: A group representing survivors of the April 20, 1995 LRA slaughter in the village of Atiak (northern Uganda, Amuru district) is demanding the government devote significant financial resources to rebuilding northern Uganda. The LRA is a sociopathically violent outfit, but Atiak ranks as one of its most vicious attacks. An LRA group attacked and drove away a contingent of Ugandan Army soldiers outside the village then forced some 300 people (mostly men, but some women and children) down to a nearby river and shot them, execution style. People in the district are predominantly from the Acholi tribe, the same tribe as most senior LRA commanders.

April 21, 2011: Opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested for the third time since April 1. Besigye was leading a demonstration in Kampala protesting higher food prices. The government has warned the opposition that police will stop future protests. Museveni defeated Besigye in the last presidential election. Besigye contends that the election was a fraud.

April 20, 2011: The Ugandan Army (UPDF) and US Army trainers from US AFRICOM completed a joint exercise code-named ATLAS Drop 201. The exercise was designed to improve Ugandan air rescue capabilities.

April 18, 2011: A survey of food prices in Kenya and Uganda shows higher oil prices have quickly led to higher food prices in African cities. Food has to be trucked from the farms into the cities and that takes gasoline. Food prices have risen between 30 to 40 percent compared to April 2010.

April 14, 2011: Opposition leader Kizza Besigye was wounded in Kampala when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired by a Ugandan military police unit. Besigye was leading a demonstration against high food prices.

April 12, 2011: Several Ugandan security officials are reacting to criticisms of Uganda’s arms build-up, especially the opposition criticism of the acquisition of Russian jet aircraft. The security officials argue that improving the air force and Army infantry is absolutely necessary now that Uganda is on the verge of becoming an oil exporter. One scenario isn’t so fanciful, given the years Uganda has spent dealing with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the LRA: that is a proxy war with predominantly Muslim East African nations (Somalia and Sudan in the case of the ADF, Sudan in the case of the LRA).

April 10, 2011: Opposition members of parliament complained that the government has wasted the $721 million it has spent on acquiring Russian-made jet fighters. The opposition argues that protecting the poor from the effects of rising food prices should have taken precedence.

 

 

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