Uganda: The Threat


January 10, 2013: The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group is expanding in East Africa. The ADF is recruiting fighters in Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania. Since last August the ADF has been recruiting more fighters and building base camps in the eastern Congo. The ADF is now aligned with the Somali Islamist Al Shabaab militia, which Ugandan Army soldiers have been fighting in Somalia. The ADF had set up a base camp (and possibly a headquarters) near the town of Beni in the north of the Congo’s North Kivu province. The area is about 90 kilometers from the Congo-Uganda border.

The ADF’s full name is the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU). The ADF formed in the mid-1990s and operated from bases in the eastern Congo. Allegedly Sudan played a role in forming the ADF and many ADF fighters were Muslim Ugandans. The ADF tried to attract support inside Uganda but largely failed. The government contends that Al Shabaab and its supporters have revived the ADF as a tool for attacking Uganda. Uganda has forces deployed with AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) in Somalia. In early December the Ugandan Army reported that the ADF had at least 500 to 600 fighters. At least one source says the figure is over 1,000 fighters. These include ADF fighters who have gone to Somalia to fight with Al Shabaab. The ADF’s senior commander, Jamil Mukulu, is allegedly hiding in Tanzania. Mukulu is a Muslim convert. ADF may have funding sources in East Africa. The ADF purportedly engages in timber smuggling (from Congolese forests) and smuggling precious minerals (specifically gold).

January 7, 2013: Al Shabaab militia suffered a severe defeat after AMISOM forces raided a key Al Shbaab base located in the Balidoogle area (120 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu). Ugandan soldiers ambushed an Al Shabaab unit and then raided a base camp.

January 4, 2013: The government said that it is willing to commit peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) to help stabilize the deteriorating situation in that country. The government said that the African Union (AU) is the logical organization to create a peacekeeping force for the CAR.

December 26, 2012: The African Union wants the four countries participating in the search for Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) commander Joseph Kony to recommit themselves to capturing Kony and defeating the LRA. Uganda, the Congo, South Sudan, and the CAR have all promised to help in the regional effort to capture Kony.

December 19, 2012: There is evidence that the LRA is killing elephants (for their ivory) in the Congo’s Garamba National Park. Congolese park rangers reportedly captured some elephant tusks after a firefight with LRA guerrillas.

December 18, 2012: The LRA has launched 180 attacks during 2012, and 138 occurred in the Congo while 42 occurred in the Central African Republic (CAR). These attacks left 39 dead and 193 kidnapped. 

December 13, 2012: The Ugandan Army placed units on high alert because of what it considers to be credible intelligence that Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) guerrillas will launch attacks in western Uganda. The army believes that the ADF has built several new base camps in the eastern Congo. The ADF has at least 500 to 600 guerrilla fighters under arms and is recruiting more. The military claimed that the ADF has been trying to recruit in Uganda’s Mayuge district (northeastern Uganda).

December 11, 2012: President Yoweri Museveni met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Russia is interested in Uganda’s expanding oil production. Museveni has said that Uganda is seeking additional sources of international investment. Russia is also interested in selling Uganda more Su-30 fighters.

December 10, 2012: The Ugandan Contingent with AMISOM  and Somali troops retook the Somali town of Jawahr ( 90 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu). Al Shabaab militia units had used Jawahr as a base. 

November 26, 2012: A senior M23 (a Tutsi Congo rebel group) commander has flown to Kampala, Uganda to participate in negotiations to end the M23 rebellion in the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). Uganda is helping facilitate the negotiations.

November 22, 2012: The government once again firmly denied that it is involved with the Congolese M23 rebel movement. The denial came the same day several security analysts published assessments of the government’s threat to withdraw its forces from international peacekeeping and stability operations. Even critics of Uganda (several of whom have concluded the evidence that Uganda and Rwanda support M23 is overwhelming) have agreed the threat by the Museveni government is very astute diplomacy.  Many of the nations criticizing Uganda have refused to send troops to Somalia but they support the AMISOM mission. Since 2007, the Ugandan Army has served as AMISOM’s primary peacekeeping force in the Mogadishu area. The government has essentially said, okay, if you want to make malign accusations against us, then you go police Somalia.

November 20, 2012: The government is continuing to talk to the Russian state arms exporting company, Rosoboronexport. Though the acquisition of six Russian-made Su-30MK2 multi-mission combat fighters remains very controversial in Uganda, the government contends the country needs the aircraft to protect its oilfields and planned oil refining and transport infrastructure. The government points to attacks on South Sudan’s infrastructure by the Sudanese Air Force as a reason to have high-performance fighters capable of conducting air interception missions. According to Rosoboronexport officials, Uganda has expressed an interest in obtaining an option to purchase six more Su-30MK2s. Russian media have reported that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni will discuss the aircraft when he visits Moscow in December.

November 16, 2012: The government has begun to relocate some 8,000 people living near the Lake Albert oil fields to make room to build an oil refinery. The relocation program is controversial. Most of the people being relocated are farmers and their families, and they are angry at losing their land. They claim that the government is not paying enough in compensation. There are also several disagreements over surveys and land records. The planned refinery complex, which is being built by the state’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Department (PEPD), requires 29 square kilometers of space. The large area includes a small airport, housing for workers, and stores. The government contends that the country needs the refinery because it will ultimately make more money if it can sell refined products to other east African countries. Uganda won’t simply export oil as a natural resource, it will sell refined products (value-added products). Ugandan workers will have these high-paying jobs, not someone in another country. The refinery is supposed to be completed by 2015. The Lake Albert area has between three and four billion barrels of oil. (Austin Bay)

November 10, 2012: The government renewed its threat to withdraw Ugandan Army troops from UN and African Union peacekeeping operations. The government called a UN report  that Uganda is aiding the M23 rebel movement in the Congo a “stab in the back.” Ugandan diplomats have been meeting with members of the UN Security Council to express the nation’s outrage. However, the UN reported that Uganda has not yet lodged an official complaint.

November 6, 2012: The government rejected a UN investigative report which claimed that Uganda had actively supported the M23 rebel movement. M23 operates in the Congo’s eastern province of North Kivu. In the months prior to its attack on the city of Goma, M23 held an enclave on the Uganda-Congo border. The UN report quote Congolese Army sources and M23 fighters who claimed that the Ugandan Army had around 600 soldiers involved with the rebel army. Uganda contends that the 600 soldiers were Congolese Army soldiers who had fled from M23 into the Uganda. Ugandan diplomats are also pointing out that Uganda has repeatedly offered to act as a mediator in negotiations between M23 commanders and the Congolese government. There is an on-going mediation effort by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR, a regional cooperation group). Uganda’s president currently chairs the ICGLR.

November 3, 2012: Somalia said that his country relies on AMISOM’s peacekeeping force to defend it and stabilize the country. He also made it clear that the Ugandan Contingent (Ugandan Army component of AMISOM) plays a major role in fighting the Al Shabaab Islamist militia and the war against Al Shabaab is at a critical moment. The withdrawal of Ugandan soldiers would place Somalia at risk.  The Ugandan Army (Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces, UDF) has around 5,000 soldiers in Somalia. AMISOM has 17,600 peacekeepers on duty. The Somali government said that it has not yet heard anything officially from the Ugandan government regarding threats by Uganda to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent. Uganda is angry at a UN report which accuses it of supporting Congolese rebels. The Somali government was responding to a report that the Ugandan government is seriously considering withdrawing Ugandan security forces from regional peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and the Central African Republic (CAR). The Ugandan forces in the CAR are pursuing the Lords Resistance Army. Uganda also has soldiers in South Sudan who are participating in the anti-LRA operation.

October 24, 2012: The government announced that it is reconsidering its participation in the Somalia AMISOM peacekeeping mission because of what it called a false accusation by the UN that it is supporting the Congolese M23 rebel movement. 




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