By Steven Candia
The renewed clashes in the eastern DRC between the M23 rebels and government forces have made Uganda’s role in pacifying the region even more crucial, the US Ambassador to Uganda has said.
Speaking at a meeting with internal affairs minister Hillary Onek yesterday, ambassador Scott De Lisi said there was no doubt regarding the important pacification role that Uganda was playing in the region, which even comes in more handy, given the recent flare up in eastern DRC.
The ambassador hailed Uganda’s role in Somalia under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and said Uganda’s lead role in numerous regional peace initiatives has endeared it to many countries in the region.
“Uganda enjoys the support of all countries in the region in addressing these issues and that speaks volumes. The recent upsurge in fighting in the DRC makes Uganda’s role and voice in these initiatives even more critical in addressing this issue,” Scott De Lisi said at the meeting held at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The meeting was attended by Police boss Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the director of immigration, Godfrey Sasagah and director corrections in the Uganda Prisons services, Tommy Ochen, who represented the Commissioner General.
Responding to a question on a leaked UN panel of experts report implicating Uganda, Scott De Lisi maintained that it was important that Uganda be heard before a final position is reached. Uganda which has sent a team to the UN has since dismissed the report as false and threatened to pull out of all regional peace initiatives, including Somalia.
On the recent spate of corruption in the country, Scott De Lisi said the US government was concerned, though no direct funding from the US had been misappropriated. He, however, said they expect the government of Uganda to tackle the vice decisively.
“We met the President on Monday and he assured us of the Government commitment’s to fighting corruption,” he said.
The ambassador also hailed the Police as being professional, noting that it had undergone a major transformation.
Onek on his part reiterated the Government’s commitment to combatting fraud and hailed the relationship that the two countries enjoy.
The meeting, he said, was to explore ways of cultivating “a productive partnership” between the two countries that may result in more support for the Police and Prisons. The support, Onek said, could be in the area of counter-terrorism, human trafficking and cyber crime. He hailed the US for the continued support it has been rendering to the Police.