Uganda threat to pull out of peace missions over DRC report; why are we in Somalia?

Since July 11 when Al shabaab killed 74 people in twin bomb attacks in Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni has been writing about the need for Uganda and other African countries to stay in Somalia. In fact Uganda has increased its troops in Mogadishu.

Today an embedded Daily Monitor journalist quoted one of the commanders  Maj. David Matua, who is based at the Somali parliament, saying

If we had enough troops, it would not take us weeks to flush them out of those positions because to render them useless, we must secure places under our control

Generally there has been propaganda that more troops will bring peace in Somalia.

But today Uganda finds itself backtracking on the mission in the face of a UN report due to be published about the crimes committed by our forces in DRC.

The UN report – into conflicts in the DR Congo between 1993 and 2003 – is expected to be published on Friday and is said to detail crimes never previously documented.

The draft version alleges that the Ugandan army committed war crimes and crimes against humanity when it backed Congolese rebels who overthrew President Mobuto Sese Seko in 1997 and went on to occupy parts of the east of the country.

The BBC quoted Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa

Such sinister tactics undermine Uganda’s resolve to continue contributing to, and participating in, various regional and international peacekeeping operations.

This is the same tactic earlier deployed by Rwanda which is also implicated in the report. Rwanda’s threats saw the UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon visit Rwanda a few days ago.

What calls for more questioning in Uganda’s case , which has said the report is a pack of lies, is that they have always argued that their involvement in the mission is for the safety of Uganda, at least when addressing Ugandan.

They have been drumming up support from the international community saying ‘our’ presence in Mogadishu is the most important for regional safety. And for a country which saw terror attacks and whose commanders have been saying staying in Somalia is the only option of keeping Uganda safe, such Kutesa’s threats can only be theatrical.

Kutesa’s comments show that either Uganda can pull out of Somalia and not be threatened or the government is willing to sacrifice Uganda’s safety to save themselves from scrutiny of their actions in the Congo.

This is not the first time Uganda has been implicated in the  Congo case.  Uganda lost so many soldiers in their clashes with Rwandan troops in Kisangani over control of areas. So one must ask, did those areas have no Congolese civilians?  Not forgetting that we backed some militia groups who committed their a good deal of crimes. Of course other things like the stealing of the timber is general knowledge in Uganda and our share of the bloody minerals is well documented in our export figures.

For now we can only watch how this performance of the East African governments ends. And what’s the price to pay once our government is implicated? Will the UN dare come after another African president? Well, I don’t see much the UN will do beyond mentioning that these crimes were committed but really what intrigues me is this open performance of our governments.

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