Photo: Daily Monitor
A contingent of troops after landing in Gulu.
By Edris Kiggundu
Asked by journalists in June 2014 why Joseph Kony and his rebel Lord’s Resistance Army had eluded the UPDF in the jungles of the Central African Republic (CAR), Brigadier Sam Kavuma swiftly responded with a question of his own; “If five people are hiding in a thick forest and they are not communicating on phone, where will you find them?”
Kavuma at the time was commander of the African Union backed Regional Task Force (RTF), which was hunting down the LRA in CAR. From the rugged and heavily forested terrain to the vast geographical area that stretches thousands of kilometres, the hunt for LRA’s Kony in CAR has evidently not been an easy one for the UPDF.
Little wonder that the UPDF announced this week that it was pulling out after seven eventful years in the jungles of CAR. In a statement, the army said the mission had been a success because the LRA had been decimated to the extent that it cannot pose any military threat to Uganda.
“Joseph Kony with less than 100 armed fighters is now weak and ineffective. He no longer poses any significant threat to Uganda’s security and northern Uganda in particular. The UPDF operations have contributed significantly to the restoration of peace and tranquility in big areas of the Central Africa Republic (CAR),” partly read the statement issued on Wednesday by Brig Richard Karemire, the army spokesperson.
On Wednesday, the first batch of at least 2,000 UPDF soldiers deployed in CAR landed in the northern Gulu district. More soldiers are expected to be airlifted back home in the coming days.
Yet according to the army, the major objective of the mission was to kill Kony and since the rebel leader is still alive, questions still abound as to what actually led the UPDF to withdraw from CAR. Indeed, according to the statement from the UPDF, the army is still open to the possibility of rejoining future efforts to hunt Kony.
“The UPDF as a pan-Africanist force remains ready to support the capacity building of the Armed Forces of Central Africa (FACA) for counter LRA operations and may also join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) under a strengthened mandate to effectively deal with LRA,” Karemire wrote further.
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This presupposes that there may still be some unfinished business in CAR. So, why did the army actually call off the mission weeks after US troops had withdrawn from CAR?Was the CAR mission a victim of US president Donald Trump’s new resolve to undo some of the decisions made by the Barack Obama administration?Is Kony really finished, unable to launch any attack?All these questions have no obvious answers.US ASSISTANCEWhat is clear is that the deployment of the 150 US Special Forces in 2011 by the Obama administration boosted UPDF’s mission in CAR on several fronts. According to various media reports, the US troops, under what they dubbed “Operation Observant Compass,” had sophisticated weaponry and intelligence-gathering equipment.Secondly, given its financial prowess, US involvement in CAR was expected to take some burden off Uganda’s shoulders. At its height, according to the Washington Times, the U.S. special operations forces established a network of small airbases inside CAR, which they used to fly their Special Forces and Ugandan troops around the country.Nevertheless, they failed to capture Kony, forcing the then US president, Barrack Obama, to prolong the American operation in CAR beyond 2021. With the elusive Kony still out of their reach, and President Trump, the new US leader, focusing his military and financial resources elsewhere, the CAR mission became untenable.In March this year, the US announced a decision to withdraw from CAR, where the US has spent more than $780 million in six years, according to US media.Some security and political analysts have argued that the US’s decision could have been prompted by the changes in Washington that saw Trump replace Obama.Trump’s administration has already indicated it will devote fewer resources to peace missions abroad including the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom), where UPDF is an active player.Interviewed yesterday, Dr Philip Kashaija, an international relations expert and an associate professor of political science at Makerere University, said the change in American foreign policy negatively affected Uganda’s CAR mission.”Trump came to office using the slogan ‘America First.’ If the LRA does not threaten the interests of the US, they will not pay attention to it,” he said.Kashaija said the only way the country would have stayed in CAR is if it had the resources and specialized equipment to sustain the mission. It did not.IS KONY FINISHED?According to Crisis Tracker, a project of Invisible Children, in January this year, Kony carried out 14 attacks and abducted 59 civilians in CAR. On this basis, it means that weakened as UPDF says, the LRA is still active and poses a threat.However, it appears the UPDF is less bothered by the group’s activities now unless they threaten to attack parts of Uganda. In the course of the two decade-long LRA conflict, the government on several occasions declared the rebel outfit dead and buried several occasions, only for it to re-emerge and launch attacks.Yet over the last 12 years since Kony fled to South Sudan (and then to CAR), northern Uganda has been relatively peaceful. Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo, the Agago North MP, who has been deeply involved in the northern Uganda peace process, said it was still premature to completely write off Kony.He said UPDF needed to explain and give assurances to the people in northern Uganda that there are safeguards in place to ensure that Kony or the remnants of his group do not attack the north again.”Kony is very cunning. He is still capable of doing something like linking up with other rebel groups in South Sudan to cause havoc,” Latigo said.In his view, Kashaija said the LRA had lost the ability to carry out large scale attacks like it used to in the past.
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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A major operation against a crop-ravaging pest, known as fall armyworm, is underway across the country, with the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) having joined the battle last week.
RDF is helping to airlift pesticides to the affected places across the country and working with local authorities, technical teams and residents to spray thousands of hectares of fields.
It may be too soon to determine the scale of the destruction caused by the caterpillars but thousands of households are expected to suffer heavy losses.
The armyworm attacks cereals especially maize, sorghum, rice and wheat.
Announcing the military’s intervention, officials at the Ministry of Defence said the pest constituted a major threat to the country’s food security.
It had, several months earlier, caused havoc in several countries in the southern and eastern parts of the continent, and it should therefore not have come as a complete surprise when it invaded Rwandan crops.
Rwanda is still largely an agriculture-based economy, with at least 70 per cent of the population deriving their livelihoods from the sector.
Across the developing world, agriculture is a sector under siege. The ever worsening effects of climate change, coupled with traditional challenges that continue to afflict the sector such as technical know-how gap, limited financing and difficulty in accessing fertilizers and high quality seeds, mean that farmers are faced with a make-or-break situation.
As such, smallholder farmers need maximum support through a comprehensive extension programme. Farmers need constant education on how to deal with challenges to maximise output and ensure sustainable agriculture.
It is the responsibility of the officials to constantly scan the environment to detect any possible threats to the sector. An outbreak of the fall armyworm, or any other pest for that matter, elsewhere in the region, should prompt focused action toward sufficient readiness to deal with the threat in the event it attacks.
As it appears, that was not the case with the armyworm outbreak. We had time to prepare for the invasion and take appropriate measures. We did not. For weeks, if not months, the pest ravaged crops across the country without a concerted effort to stop it. It’s not that we lacked the pesticide (locally produced pyrethrum EWC+ is being used to fight the caterpillars and has proved to be effective), but rather an early warning system and responsive coordination.
The harm has already taken place. We can only try to limit the damage. Kudos to the Rwanda Defence Forces and the Rwanda National Police, who have taken this seriously and have since swung into action to thwart it.
We need to pick a lesson or two from the armyworm experience: Next time such outbreaks must not catch us unaware. The Ministry of Agriculture (Minagri) should do everything possible to ensure we are always prepared to keep such threats at bay or respond in a timely manner in case of an outbreak.
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Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
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By Andrew Bagala
Kampala — Detectives were last night upbeat about the possibility of closing in on killers of police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi after one of ten witnesses they interviewed reportedly said they knew one of the attackers.
Kaweesi, assassinated last Friday together with his guard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa, is due to be buried in Lwengo District today.
Our investigations show that among those interviewed is a child, who claimed to have clearly seen the attackers and knew one of them.
An investigator said they have put the child, whose identity we cannot disclose for safety reasons, under witness protection for fear that the gunmen could harm him.
Others interviewed include boda boda riders who told police that they saw the suspected killers pretending to repair their motorcycle near the slain assistant Inspector General of Police’s home.
The trio was ambushed at 9:30am shortly after exiting Kaweesi’s home in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb.
CID director Grace Akullo last night referred all inquiries on the status of the investigations to Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Mr Emilian Kayima, who too said he was preoccupied with today’s burial programme and unable to comment.
Call for inquiry
At the requiem mass at Rubaga Cathedral yesterday, the Commander of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, said the different state security and intelligence agencies should jointly inquire into the brutal execution of the three police officers.
“They have raised stakes high. We need to invest technology of the police. Secondly, we need to invest in human intelligence. Thirdly, we need synergies of all our agencies,” he said.
The military chief’s comment came a day after President Museveni, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, said criminals had infiltrated police and paralysed its effectiveness in arresting suspects even where incriminating evidence existed.
Daily Monitor understands that a committee comprising of military and police units that deal in violent crime has been set up to hunt the killers. The head of police homicide department, Mr Johnson Monday, is leading the committee.
By press time, the postmortem reports of the three slain officers had not been released yet.
The director of police health services, Dr Moses Byaruhanga, said they were still compiling the report following an autopsy at the City Mortuary in Kampala.
“Whatever you want to know will be in the report which isn’t yet out,” he said last night.
The widow, Harriet Kaweesi, through her aunt Mary Nakisubi, said before the killing, they were planning to celebrate a decade in marriage later this year.
“He was a busy man because of his love for the nation, but he has been sparing time for his children. We are going to miss him,” she said.
Kaweesi’s relatives asked mourners to pray for Kaweesi’s widow, who is to go for a caesarean operation on Wednesday, a day after the burial of her husband and former police spokesman.
She asked mourners to continue supporting her to look after Kaweesi’s four children.
The First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, who represented government at yesterday’s requiem mass at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala, said the killing manifested bad elements lurking in the city and asked security agencies to stamp out the vice.
Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga said the church condemns the killings. “I call upon those who are carrying out acts of murder to stop it, and come to reconciliation. That is why reconciliation is very important in our way of life,” he said.
Investigators said they are looking at different options.
Mar 21 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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President Yoweri Museveni has said that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has managed to bring peace in Uganda and successfully executed many tasks because of its ideology, discipline and professionalism.
The President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Uganda Armed Forces, was speaking at the UPDF’s 36th Tahere Sita Anniversary celebrations which were held yesterday at the Boma Grounds in Apac district, Lango Sub-Region, under the theme ‘The People and their Security Forces: Celebrating A Patriotic Partnership that Guarantees Security for National Development.’
“There is peace in the whole of Uganda today. This has been the work of the UPDF and the people of Uganda. When we celebrate the Army Day, we do not only celebrate NRA but all the previous armies which merged to form one national army,” he said.
Tahere Sita is an annual event that marks the birth of the National Resistance Army (NRA), which metamorphosed into the UPDF. On that day in 1981, 27 armed and a few unarmed patriots attacked Kabamba barracks, marking the start of the struggle by the Ugandans against the misrule that they had witnessed characterized by dictatorship, unconstitutional governance and state oppression and violation of human rights.
In the run up to this year’s Tarehe Sita day celebrations, the UPDF carried out a number of civil-military activities in Lango sub region, such as medical and public health works, to consolidate and maintain the UPDF’s strategic civil -military relationship between the Army and Ugandans.
President Museveni called upon the people of Lango to join the war against poverty saying that while it is the role of government to ensure development, it is up to the people of Lango in particular and Ugandans in general, to ensure that they acquire wealth in their homes.
“Development must be accompanied by wealth creation. Wealth is for homes while development is for everyone. When we tarmac a road, it belongs to everyone but in your house you might still have poverty and that is not good,” he said.
The President said that now that Uganda is peaceful with no political wars, the only remaining battle is to chase away household poverty.
Regarding infrastructure development, President Museveni said that his government would build more roads and hydropower dams to reduce the cost of electricity for Ugandans.
“Right now we have a surplus of electricity and we shall not accept a deficit of electricity. The only issue is that the price of Bujjagali is still high but we shall bring it down when we buy out those people because we need cheap electricity for our people,” he said.
He added that government would construct the Rwenkunyu – Masindi Port – Apac – Lira road. He said that the Government will later secure funds for the construction of the Aboke – Bobbi road.
During the celebrations, 232 awards including 43 Luweero Triangle, 20 Ruwenzori Star, 128 Golden Jubilee and 41 Police Medals were given out for distinguished and exemplary service.
General David Muhoozi, the Chief of Defence Forces said that the UPDF was committed to contribute to development and remain a people’s army and foster patriotic partnership with the people.
Vice-President, Edward Ssekandi, Deputy Chief Justice, Stephen Kavuma, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, Presidency Minister, Esther Mbayo, diplomats and leaders of the armed forces from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania attended the celebrations.
Feb 14 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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President John Magufuli yesterday appointed Lieutenant General Venance Mabeyo (pictured) the new Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), replacing General Davis Mwamunyange who has retired.
Besides the appointment, Lt General Mabeyo was promoted to General, according to a statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the presidential communication directorate.
At the same time, Dr Magufuli appointed Major General James Mwakibolwa the new Chief of Staff of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces, taking over from General Mabeyo. Major General Mwakibolwa was also promoted to Lieutenant General.
The new appointments become effective immediately, with the new appointees scheduled for swearing-in soon.
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Feb 3 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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Photo: Daily Monitor
Newly-appointed Chief of Defense Forces Gen David Muhoozi.
opinionBy Obed K Katureebe
It was in 1996, then as an undergraduate student at Makerere University, when a colleague and I decided to visit a fairly mature baby-faced soldier then residing in Nkrumah Hall. The soldier was also an undergraduate Law student. In a quiet, clean room was the newly-appointed Chief of Defense Forces Gen David Muhoozi. He was a lieutenant then.
He was intently listening to BBC news on an old wooden box radio. After exchanging pleasantries, he relaxed on his bed, pulled out a wallet and gave us some money and then buried himself in his books. We thanked him and excused ourselves.
After exiting the room, my friend remarked, ‘that is Muhoozi for you’. Of course we later met several times as he upped his soldiering profession.
No doubt Muhoozi is a disciplined, cautious and a highly cerebral officer. To those of us who know him, his appointment as CDF did not come as a surprise. It was meant to happen after all. His elevation will as a matter of fact, steer the UPDF to greater heights only if he follows the catch phrase, kisanja hakuna mchezo.
Gen Muhoozi comes into office when this mighty force (UPDF) is scaling heights en route to a fully professional army. No doubt the previous commanders had attained massive successes and they have moved on to various deployments with their heads high. There is no need to enumerate their various successes in securing Uganda and beyond, that will be a story for another day.
However, what makes Muhoozi’s plate rather full are certain levels of disruptive behaviour that are beginning to crop up in the UPDF. Indiscipline and impunity were slowly becoming a pattern in sections of the UPDF.
Stories abound of UPDF officers involving themselves in criminal behaviours such as armed robberies, rape, selling of war materials for personal gains especially those in combat areas like Somalia, procurement mishaps, increased cases of homicides like we some time back witnessed when Cpl Herbert Rwakihembo killed three people including his wife. In June 2016, Lance Corporal Moses Katwesigye killed eight people including his wife in Kanungu. Private Okot Odock in March 2016 shot and killed nine people Bombo town. In June 2016, Sgt Obua Isaac killed eight people in Makindye Barracks before being put out of action by colleagues. There are several other recent incidents that are similar to those mentioned above. But most disturbing has been reported cases of some UPDF officers involving themselves in absurd fraudulent behaviour. For example, there are stories that some UPDF officers obtained colossal sums of money (Shs 4 billion) after duping a Polish company that they had awarded a lucrative contract to supply different war materials. If this is proved to be true, then stern action must be taken.
Such indiscretions within the UPDF had been fairly eliminated during the reign of the Gen Aronda Nyakairima. In his characteristic style, Aronda was uncompromising when it came to disciplining errant officers. Many were jailed and others lost jobs. Without mincing words, if Gen Muhoozi is to succeed in this office he must crack the whip. As a country, we are not shot of human manpower. Although it costs government to train new officers, we would rather discard all the bad ones and recruit new ones with discipline however the cost.
What happened to firing squad of soldiers who engaged in premeditated murders and robberies? Much as Muhoozi is a lawyer by training, he must pay less attention to some human rights organisations that make noise every time harsh punishments are administered to errant officers.
There is a growing concern that impunity is cropping up in the UPDF. Of course impunity is bad in every institution. During the military dictatorship regimes that characterised the post independence Uganda, military impunity led to one of the darkest eras of our nation. It was because of such impunity that thousands of Ugandans were killed, others exiled and many disappeared never to be seen again. There has never been an unattainable task if one’s conscience is clear and defined. Gen Muhoozi has attained many major tasks in his career growth and I am sure this one also will be achieved. He has a fantastic team of men and women who mean well for this country.
Jan 17 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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By Martins E. Ssekweyama
The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF Armoured Brigade headquarters at Kassajjagirwa barracks in Masaka District have issued stern warnings to the youth against falling victim to illegal recruitment activities.
Brigadier Joseph Ssemwanga, the Brigade commander on Saturday revealed that they are currently investigating suspected rebel recruitment activities targeting mainly youth in greater Masaka sub region.
Speaking at the gathering of the UPDF’s annual end of year celebrations at the brigade barracks, Ssemwanga told his audience that they had already obtained intelligence reports about a group of people going around the sub region, meeting and registering youths with intentions of recruiting them into suspected rebel outfits.
“Security intelligence organs are currently monitoring these suspicious activities and are yet to come up with a comprehensive report about them. We are yet to share the report briefs with all Resident District Commissioners in the region to guide the next course of action,” he noted.
Although Mr Ssemwanga was cagey about the details of groups carrying out these recruitments and their specific areas of operation, he said that some of the unsuspecting recruits have been found in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo; a known organisation camp of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group.
“I am now passing a passionate warning to youths in the entire sub region area to avoid being hoodwinked and duped by opportunists who may lead you into illegal activities that will see combat with government forces, and I want to assure you UPDF is strong enough to deal with any situation that may attempt to disrupt the peace of the country,” he said.
Ssemwanga also delivered President Museveni’s appreciation to the soldiers for their dedicated service and patience despite challenges. He asked leaders in the eight districts in the greater Masaka sub region to mobilise youths in their respective areas to take part in the available self-development programmes run by the government to avoid the temptation of being misled by opportunists.
The President who doubles as Commander in Chief committed himself to improving the soldiers’ welfare, urging them to uphold the zeal and discipline required of them.
Mr Joe Walusimbi, the Masaka Resident District Commissioner who graced the party as chief guest also cautioned the public against being misled by selfish politicians who aspire towards failing government programmes in the area.
Walusimbi warned that security will this year be tough on such persons.
The feast which was crowned with prayers was graced by Members of Parliament, religious leaders, and the business community among other residents as one, as a get together that aims at improving the army-civilians relationship.
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Jan 3 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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[New Times] President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces Paul Kagame has called on members of Rwanda Defence and security forces to consider trends and past lessons as a reminder to stay vigilant, focused and determined. The call was part of his Christmas and End of Year message to the troops.
Dec 27 2016 | Posted in Rwanda
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Photo: Daily News
Tanzanian soldiers (file photo).
By Katare Mbashiru
Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL) is currently executing a tender for production of military uniforms, with officials confirming that the company still owns some retail shops for the sale of the uniforms.
This is contrary to the recent order by President John Magufuli that he issued after paying an impromptu visit at the Ukonga Prison, directing that no civilian company or individual is allowed to sell military uniforms.
At the ongoing Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) industrial exhibitions METL pavilion, the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ witnessed officials from the company showcasing various samples of their products, among them the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and SUMAJKT uniforms.
The company’s Sales Supervisor, Japhet Kimonge, told this paper that in its textiles industry, the company receives orders from different customers, civilians or members from the military for designing and making of clothes, school uniforms and other outfits.
He revealed that the company was currently implementing a tender for uniforms of SUMAJKT and JWTZ, insisting that they were sold on wholesale and not on retail agreement.
He, however, admitted that they had other retail shops including the one located at Mnazi Mmoja in Dar es Salaam, stating categorically that the company was not selling uniforms to individuals but to the army’s administration.
Recently, Dr Magufuli made an impromptu tour of Ukonga Prison in Dar es Salaam, ordering an immediate stoppage of the sale of military uniforms by civilians. The president condemned the involvement of civilians in trading the uniforms, directing all people dealing in the military attires to cease the business and immediately surrender their consignments to respective forces.
“It is impossible to have private dealers supplying uniforms to our armies … it just can’t be,” ruled the Command of the Armed Forces. Dr Magufuli issued the order after receiving complaints from prison wardens over the procurement of their uniforms from private dealers, contrary to the rules and principles guiding the armed forces.
The head of state directed the relevant authorities to take to task all those involved in the shoddy deals relating to uniform supply to prison officers..
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Dec 12 2016 | Posted in Tanzania
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[Daily News] The Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) Lugalo Golf Club of Dar es Salaam has organised the Uhuru Day golf tournament, scheduled to tee off today. Lugalo club captain Japhet Masai told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday that preparations for the same are complete for them to host the one -day 18 holes event.
Dec 9 2016 | Posted in Tanzania
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