By Moses Mulondo
Uganda has resolved to pull out of all regional efforts, including peace keeping missions in Somalia, Central African Republic and DR Congo, over a leaked UN report, which accuses Uganda of supporting Congolese M23 rebels.
In a statement to Parliament, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi described the allegations as baseless, unfair and malicious. He said Uganda was acting in good faith and sacrificing a lot to bring peace to the region and deserved better understanding, respect and fairness from the UN and the region.
Mbabazi added that some actors in the UN system do not understand that there can be principled actors in Africa, not looking for gold and other minerals, like the imperialists who invaded Africa, did.
“We have now decided, after due consultations with our brothers in the AU and the region, to completely withdraw from these regional peace efforts; that is to say DRC, Somalia and others,” Mbabazi said on Thursday night. “It is no longer plausible for Uganda to assist and get malignment as the reward.”
“Where is the evidence?” Mbabazi asked. “Is it acceptable that an organ of the UN should falsely and carelessly accuse a member of the UN in this way, using either amateurs or malicious actors dressed up as experts?”
According to Mbabazi, Uganda got involved in the M23 conflict after being requested by the UN chief, Ban Ki-Moon, the DR Congo president Joseph Kabila and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
President Yoweri Museveni was asked to facilitate a dialogue between Kinshasa and the rebels. Museveni then convened four summits, three of which were in Kampala, funded by Uganda. The peace effort was supported by both the AU and the UN.
Mbabazi added that the report was compiled by a UN group of experts who arrived on September 17 and left the next day. They met Government officials on September 18, but failed to meet the intelligence chiefs, given the short notice.
They refused to extend their stay and flew to Goma, from where they summoned Ugandan intelligence chiefs to meet them, which Mbabazi said was improper.
Mbabazi said the Government was surprised that issues which came out in the report, were neither discussed in the meeting of September 18 nor cross-checked with Government officials.
“It was more surprising that the UN Security Council endorsed the report and pronounced itself on possible sanctions against Uganda without any reference to us,” Mbabazi said.
“Uganda categorically denies the allegations against her because they are totally false.”
Mbabazi gave two conditions for Uganda to reverse this decision. “The UN must sort out the malignments against Uganda by bringing out the truth about Uganda’s role in the current regional efforts,” he said.
“Our African brothers in the region should quickly pronounce themselves on these malignments against Uganda.” Mbabazi said Uganda was making lots of sacrifices in peace efforts in the region and cited the July 11, 2010 al-Shabaab terrorist attack that killed 76 Ugandans. He also cited the assassination of three Muslims in Kampala, which he blamed on ADF rebels based in eastern DRC.
He, however, told Parliament that the Government gave assistance to over 600 DRC government soldiers who ran into Uganda for refuge and medical treatment in July and were transported back in UPDF trucks in the presence of the DRC ambassador to Uganda, Charles Lokoto-Lolombe.
“At the height of the crisis when nine members of the M23 rebels fled to Uganda for safety, they were arrested in Kisoro and transported through Mbarara and they are under custody in Kampala, pending further management,” Mbabazi revealed.
In the statement, Mbabazi accused the DR Congo government of equipping Ugandan rebels.
“It is not in order for DRC and MONUSCO to maintain terrorists against Uganda by allowing ADF to freely use DRC territory to train, to receive arms and to launch assassination attacks on Ugandans,” Mbabazi said.
He added that Uganda preferred dialogue to resolve the M23 rebel problem and use MONUSCO and a neutral international force to get rid of the terrorists.
“Some actors have a different opinion. How long will the Congolese territory continue to be used as a base against its neighbours?” Mbabazi asked.
He said because of this, it was inevitable for Uganda to withdraw from Somalia and CAR to “watch the DRC territory donated to the terrorists by the DRC government and the UN”.
Reacting to the statement, MPs Jack Sabiti (Rukiga), Winnie Kizza (Kasese Woman) and Dr. Lulume Bayinga (Buyikwe South) expressed fear of a possible war between the two countries.
The MPs will discuss the statement next week.