Monday, November 5, 2012

Uganda throws her toy's out of the cot

The BBC reports

Uganda to withdraw troops from Somalia, says Mukasa

Uganda will withdraw its forces from UN-backed international missions, Security Minister Muruli Mukasa says, escalating a long-running row.

Mr Mukasa said the government had sent an official to New York to inform the UN of this decision.

Operations in Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be affected.

It sounds like a pretty effective threat and for the record I am far from convinced of Uganda's guilt on this issue. 

Ugandan Government Press Release here ( I can't get it to copy  across ).

A couple of observations though, Uganda is accused in the report of providing M23 with support.
" The report - seen by Reuters news agency on Tuesday - says army units from Rwanda and Uganda have helped M23 expand its control of territory in the war-torn east of DR Congo."

This is totally unacceptable but I am unsure as to the truth of it with regard to Uganda the report later claims that Ugandan  support is limited.

 "While Rwandan officials co-ordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda's more subtle support to M23 allowed the rebel group's political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations," it said.

Uganda is trying to to maintain a cease fire between M23 and the DR Congo army and it would be astonishing if they didn't allow the political arm of M23 to operate in Kampala. America did much the same with regard to the IRA in the British / Irish shambles. Another point in Uganda's favour had been its treatment of Congolese refugees see my post Kubwa Habari kutoka Uganda I am not prepared to judge Uganda on the evidence I have seen to date.

I was fairly sceptical about this when I read it the kudos Uganda has gained particularly in Somalia has been immense and for all my considerable misgivings on Uganda it seems to be getting its shit together.

The UN infuriated Kampala when it published an experts' report accusing Uganda of arming Congolese rebels.

Mr Mukasa told a news conference: "If our efforts are going to be misinterpreted and we are going to be maligned, we want to be in a good relationship with our neighbours.

"Let's stop all these initiatives. We will concentrate on ourselves. Whoever wants to cause us trouble, they will find us at our home."

I note that this was a statement from the security minister not the foreign minister. So it was obviously meant to get attention if the cabinet rankings are anything to go by ( 6th as opposed to 25th ) but I still don't buy it. Uganda has been outrage over this for quite a while

Uganda provides the largest contingent to the UN-backed African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom).

The Amisom force has helped the Somali government gain ground against Islamist militias.

Analysts say a rapid withdrawal of Ugandan troops could threaten those gains.

Google is my friend or more accurately Lesley Anne Warner is.

" In reality, however, I doubt that Uganda can pull all of  its troops out of peacekeeping operations. Quite simply put, it’s going to cost too much. Museveni’s survival is, in part, contingent on maintaining a large military deployed outside the country’s borders in case he needs them for internal security. While 8,000+ UPDF are deployed in support of AU or UN peacekeeping operations, Museveni doesn’t have to worry about paying them. However, if he brings them home, he’ll need to find a way to keep them occupied – and paid – so they stay out of trouble. Unless there’s a war in Uganda (unlikely) to rally the troops around him, he needs to keep them deployed on someone else’s dime. In addition, one of the reasons Uganda is so important for regional security is due to its involvement in peacekeeping operations. If you take that away, you also lose the justification for allocating the same level of security assistance from international partners to train and equip the UPDF in the future. This is income that Museveni would now have to find a way to make up for.

So to be clear, I don’t expect Uganda’s threats to come to anything. It’s just putting the UN and the West on notice to back the (insert expletive here) off over allegations of providing support to M23."

Which unfortunately reduces this to a bit of a " what she said " blog.

Ugandan troops are deployed in smaller numbers to an international mission to CAR and DR Congo to hunt down the remaining elements of the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony.

The LRA killed thousands of people and abducted thousands more during a long insurgency that has seen it fight in several countries.

The remarks from the security minister echo a statement made in the Ugandan parliament on Thursday by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says while both the prime minister and the security minister have said the decision is irreversible, there has been no official government word on the issue.

The foreign and defence ministries, when contacted by the BBC, said no statements were available.

A report by a UN panel of experts last month said Rwanda and Uganda were both supplying weapons to the M23 rebels in the DR Congo. Both countries denied the claims.

The rebels' insurrection has forced some 500,000 from their homes since April.

Anyway back to my new best friend Lesley

In possibly unrelated news, the United States’ Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Uganda to discuss advancing regional security and to extend U.S. appreciation for Uganda’s peacekeeping efforts. This was the same day the PM made the announcement to withdraw from peacekeeping operations. #Awkward.

Lesley blogged this on 2/11/12 and in today's online edition of Uganda's New Vision we have this.

Uganda is committed to supporting the restoration of peace and stability in the region despite the ongoing negative stance portrayed in some sections of the media, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

The President gave the assurance while meeting the American Under-Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, at State House, Entebbe on Saturday.

US ambassador Scott De Lisi and the deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Cynthia Akuetteh, attended the meeting.

Sherman commended Museveni for his efforts in establishing security, stability, peace and development in Uganda as well as his participation in the peace process in Somalia, South Sudan and Congo in addition to flushing the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels out of Uganda.

She said the US appreciates Museveni’s contribution to the pacification and stabilisation of Somalia and that her country also looks forward to continued collaboration with Uganda within the framework of the African Mission in Somalia so as to establish a stable government and a professional army in the war-torn country.

OK so we have established that Uganda has conducted a rather clumsy diplomatic win over the UN and that nothing has actually changed. The real bonus has been from this bloggers perspective the discovery of Lesley on Africa.

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