By Moses Walubiri and Henry Sekanjako
More than five years since the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) got routed out of northern Uganda, Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, has revealed that Sudan has resumed its support for the group led by Joseph Kony.
The LRA rebels are holed up in the Central African Republic, but are being pursued by the UPDF with support from the US military.
Answering questions about the reported frosty diplomatic relationship between Kampala and Khartoum during the Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday, Mbabazi admitted that of late, all has not been well between the two countries.
Mbabazi said Uganda has lodged a complaint with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the hope of having the issue amicably resolved despite Sudan making a counter accusation that Kampala is stirring rebellion in its own backyard.
“It is common knowledge that we have been having issues with Sudan,” Mbabazi said in response to a question by Wamai Wamanga as to whether the recent escalation in fighting between warring parties in South Sudan is responsible for Khartoum’s alleged recall of its envoy to Uganda.
“We had hoped that we had put all this behind us, but sadly, Sudan has not stopped supporting Joseph Kony and the LRA,” Mbabazi said. “Sudan accused us of supporting rebellion in their country, which I denied. The OIC has taken note of our complaints and it has expressed willingness to mediate.”
Both Sudan and Uganda are members of the OIC – an organisation, which seeks to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world.
“We can only normalise relations with Sudan when they stop supporting Kony,” warned Mbabazi.
When contacted, an official at the Sudan embassy in Kampala declined to comment until he had got a true and certified copy of the parliamentary Hansard capturing Mbabazi’s comments.
“In the past, we have made mistakes commenting on issues where journalists have misquoted government officials,” an official said.
Kampala and Khartoum have in the past traded accusations of supporting rebel groups. The Sudanese government says Uganda hosts Sudanese Revolutionary Front rebels.
In October last year, President Yoweri Museveni met his Sudanese counterpart Omar El Bashir in Addis Ababa and they discussed the matter.
Ten days after signing the new dawn charter between the Sudanese opposition groups and rebels in Kampala on January 6, Khartoum filed three complaints with the African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development and International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
A US-based group Resolve in a report last year said Kony had directed killings from an enclave protected by the Sudanese military.
The report said Kony and some of his commanders were operating in Kafia Kingi, a disputed area along the Sudan-South Sudan border where African Union troops tasked with catching Kony don’t have access.
Mbabazi allayed fears of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Wafula Oguttu, that some Ugandans might have been caught up in the recent flare-up in the fighting in South Sudan, urging “maximum restraint between the warring parties”.
At the height of the protracted Kony insurgency, both countries broke off diplomatic ties, have been trading accusations of propping up rebellions in each other’s territory. Kampala expelled a Sudanese diplomat over alleged spying last year.