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I have a duty to protect my country, says Museveni
May 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to protect Ugandans and their property at all costs, saying it would be a vote of no confidence to our country to delegate that responsibility to foreigners. He said for the country to develop, peace and security is paramount. download (2)“I have never called the United Nations to guard your security. Me, Yoweri Museveni to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN….I would rather hang myself. We prioritized national security by developing a strong army otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence to our country and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security, what kind of persons would we be?” he said amidst cheering from the crowd. The President was speaking at a grand final campaign rally for the NRM woman flag bearer Rebecca Nalwanga at Zirobwe Town Council grounds after a busy afternoon that saw him address the Nubian Community at a stopover at Bombo and an impromptu gathering at Kalagala. “Am here to teach and undo the lies. Some people have turned politics into a game of lies and un seriousness. They don’t sensitize you about development but they play around with your lack of information. The issue of development is a very serious one not a joke. I detest the dishonesty and lies of the opposition who concentrate on what has not been done without considering what has been done,” he said. The President said that when the NRM came to power it revitalized the economy and increased revenue collection, the government had to prioritize the major pillars to national development starting with national security the reason the country has been peaceful and stable for a long period, health through mass immunization, education with Universal Primary Education and Universal secondary education and then infrastructure such as roads and power generation. He described some of the criticism from the opposition on some development programs that have not been done as “irresponsible talk”. “If we made a mistake to prioritize education then let anyone come up and suggest otherwise and we divert UPE and USE funds to other sectors” he said. He also castigated the opposition politicians for using lies and negative propaganda to gain political support and wondered why the electoral commission does not invoke the electoral law to disqualify them from being elected because it’s an electoral offence. At Bombo, Lomule Parish, President Museveni assured the Nubian Community in Uganda that issues to do with their frozen accounts after the Amin war would be handled and said the children of soldiers returning from Congo will be treated as Ugandans with an entitlement to a Ugandan identity card. He warned against mixing religion with politics saying infrastructure such as roads has no tribe and are used by all. He said the war against Amin was political with many Muslims supporting the NRA and that after the war he encouraged all of them to return from exile and settle home. He urged them to help him fight corruption. Museveni used the occasion to strongly warn politicians and citizens against electoral violence and instructed the Luwero district police commander to arrest and bring to justice anyone involved in this vice. “We want a civilized conduct in the electoral process and there should be zero tolerance to electoral violence. Please even you our supporters don’t involve yourselves in electoral violence or malpractices, people should not suffer because of an election” he added. He urged them to work towards overcoming household poverty which he said was the main challenge facing the country which he said can be overcome by engaging in modern agriculture that is profit oriented. *Source New Vision Kenya]]>

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East African leaders look to fast-track integration
May 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Eugene Kwibuka* [caption id="attachment_9224" align="alignleft" width="150"]President Kagame logs in to the Kenya National Electronic Window System (Kenya TradeNet) during 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Nairobi yesterday. Village Urugwiro. President Kagame logs in to the Kenya National Electronic Window System (Kenya TradeNet) during 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Nairobi yesterday. Village Urugwiro.[/caption] President Paul Kagame yesterday launched Kenya National Electronic Single Window System seen as a major boost for regional trade since it will simplify clearance processes of goods. The launch was part of the activities of the 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Nairobi, and was attended by Presidents Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Kaguta of Uganda, as well as the second vice president of Burundi and Tanzania’s prime minister. Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – which heavily rely on the Kenyan port of Mombasa – are spearheading a series of joint projects aimed at fast tracking regional development through joint infrastructure, trade and political and economic integration. The use of Electronic Single Window System is expected to centralise trade services such as tracking of goods, custom clearance, and electronic payment including through mobile money. The system will also integrate with Kenya Revenue Authority, making the clearance at Kenyan ports a lot faster and easier. “I just want to reiterate how this is one of many important projects that the East African Community partner states have undertaken to deepen integration that we have been seeking, make business more efficient, and lower the cost of  doing business as we move forward,” Kagame said at the launch. Making tech tick He reiterated Rwanda’s “continued active participation towards making integration a reality.” President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto described the Single Window System as yet another building bloc in the EAC integration process. “Our ultimate vision should be to implement an EAC Regional Single Window platform. The benefits from this initiative may not be fully realised unless all of us in the region adopt National Single Window Systems. “Our brothers in Rwanda are already implementing a Single Window System and similar efforts are underway in Tanzania and Uganda,” Kenyatta said. He added: “I truly believe that completion of these projects will make our region a world leader in terms of trade facilitation.” The Kenyan leader said the technology will make it possible for traders to submit information about their goods to multiple government agencies in multiple locations, making business faster and more efficient. After the launch of the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System, also known as Kenya TradeNet, the Heads of State and Government discussed the progress of several other projects under the Northern Corridor initiative. South Sudan on board In the meeting, the EAC leaders were joined by South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, whose country officially joined the Northern Corridor Integration Projects framework during the third summit in Kigali in October 2013. President Kenyatta said he was happy with the progress made in implementing the projects so far since the Principals’ inaugural meeting in June last year. Key areas discussed include power generation and interconnectivity, oil pipeline development, capacity building, establishment of commodity exchange, fast-tracking of political federation, construction of the railway, and defence, security and peace cooperation. The summit agreed to fast track the establishment of the commodities exchange, and committed to establishing a centre of excellence in respective countries and to ensure all citizens of partner states, including South Sudan, are able to attend institutions of higher learning for the same fee as nationals. Rwanda was designated as the one to take the lead in establishing a centre of excellence for GIS related training. The partner states also agreed to urgently address the issue of use of national ID with all member states national airlines, remove immigration barriers to labour and service provision and operationalise one common border post. Rwanda will take the lead on e-visa issuance for partner states, while member states also committed to developing strategies to reduce air travel cost between partner states. The leaders also agreed that construction of the gauge railway should begin no later than October 2014. In the field of ICT, the partner states agreed to implement a one area network by December 31, 2014 and incorporate fiber optic access on all Northern Corridor Integration Projects. Meanwhile, Burundi, which was represented by its Second Vice-President, Gervais Rufyikiri, confirmed its full participation in the integration projects. The projects were inaugurated at the summit of the countries that are served by the Northern Corridor held in Entebbe, Uganda, in June last year, bringing together Presidents Kagame, Kenyatta and Museveni. At the Nairobi summit yesterday, Tanzania was represented by its Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanda Peter Pinda. The leaders resolved to meet for their 6th summit in June in Kigali. * Source www.The New Times]]>

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U.S. Support to Regional Efforts to Counter the Lord’s Resistance Army
March 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

LRA Leader Joseph Kony remains elusive LRA Leader Joseph Kony remains elusive[/caption] In May 2010, President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to end the atrocities of the LRA in central Africa. For nearly three decades, the LRA has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. As of December 2013, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) estimated that approximately 326,000 people were displaced or living as refugees across the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), and South Sudan as a result of the LRA threat. The United States’ comprehensive, multi-year strategy seeks to help the Governments of Uganda, the C.A.R., the D.R.C., and South Sudan as well as the African Union and United Nations to mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlines four key objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians; (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield; (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters; and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities. There are significant challenges in pursuing small groups of LRA and protecting local populations across this vast, densely forested area that lacks basic road and telecommunications infrastructure. The United States – through the Department of Defense, Department of State, and U.S. Agency for International Development – has pursued innovative, multi-faceted efforts to help regional partners overcome those challenges. Over recent years, the national military forces working as part of the African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RTF) and affected communities have significantly reduced the LRA’s capacity to attack civilians and wreak havoc. Between 2010 and 2013, based on reporting from UN OCHA, there was a 50 percent decrease in the number of people abducted by the LRA and a 75 percent decrease in the number of people killed by the LRA. Since 2012, the African Union-led forces have removed two of the LRA’s top five commanders from the battlefield, and we have credible reporting that a third, Okot Odhiambo – who was the LRA’s second-in-command and an International Criminal Court indictee – was killed late last year. During that time, the number of defections and releases from the LRA has also dramatically increased, further reducing the LRA’s capacity. According to UN reporting, as of December 2013, the number of people displaced by the LRA threat had decreased by over 25 percent from a year ago. The lines of effort in which the United States is engaged include: Increasing Civilian Protection: The protection of civilians is a priority for the U.S. strategy. National governments bear responsibility for civilian protection, and the United States is working to enhance their capacity to fulfill this responsibility. The United States also strongly supports the United Nations peacekeeping missions in the D.R.C. and South Sudan. We continue to work with the United Nations to help augment its efforts in the LRA-affected region. At the same time, we are working with other partners on projects to help reduce the vulnerability of LRA-affected communities and increase their capacity to make decisions related to their own safety. To promote the protection of civilians, the Department of State and USAID are funding communication networks, including high-frequency radios and cell phone towers, to enhance community-based protection in the C.A.R. and the D.R.C. Under a USAID-funded public private partnership with Vodacom Congo, cell phone towers are now operational in LRA-affected areas northeastern D.R.C. The USAID-funded Secure, Empowered, Connected Communities Program in LRA-affected areas of the C.A.R. is getting underway with community mapping, media training and community radio activities. Enhancing Regional Efforts to Apprehend LRA Top Commanders: On November 14, 2011, the United Nations Security Council commended ongoing efforts by national militaries in the region to address the threat posed by the LRA, and welcomed international efforts to enhance their capacity in this respect. The Council noted the efforts of the United States, which, since 2008, has provided critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries. In October 2011, the United States also deployed a small number of U.S. military forces to serve as advisors to the national military forces working as part of the AU-RTF to pursue senior LRA commanders and to protect civilians. The U.S. military advisors are working to facilitate coordination, information sharing, and tactical coordination amongst regional forces; enhance the capacity of the regional militaries to fuse intelligence with effective operational planning; promote defections from LRA ranks, and support efforts to improve civil-military relations through increased coordination and communication with local populations and NGOs. The State Department has deployed a field officer to work alongside U.S. military advisors. In addition, to augment ongoing efforts to bring the LRA’s top leaders to justice, the Secretary of State authorized rewards for up to $5 million for information leading to the arrests and/or conviction of top LRA leaders Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen. Encouraging and Facilitating LRA Defections: Working with regional forces, local partners and nongovernmental organizations, U.S. military advisors and diplomats have significantly expanded efforts to promote defections from the LRA’s ranks – using leaflet drops, radio broadcasts, aerial loudspeakers, and the establishment of reporting sites where LRA fighters can safely surrender. For example, U.S. military advisors have helped to airdrop more than one million leaflets encouraging defections at seventeen locations across LRA-affected areas of the C.A.R., the D.R.C., and South Sudan. In early December 2013, 19 individuals, including nine Ugandan males, defected from the LRA in the C.A.R. This was the largest LRA defection since 2008 and signals that ongoing efforts to promote defections are working. The United States also continues to support efforts across the affected countries to demobilize and reintegrate former LRA fighters and all those victimized by this conflict back into normal life. In Fiscal Year 2010 through 2013, USAID provided approximately $8.5 million in assistance to UNICEF to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of former abducted youth in C.A.R. and the D.R.C. and other youth affected by LRA atrocities. Providing Humanitarian Assistance: The United States is the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance to LRA-affected populations in the C.A.R., the D.R.C., and South Sudan. Since 2010, the United States has provided more than $87.2 million to support the food assistance and food security, humanitarian protection, health and livelihoods initiatives, and other relief activities for internally displaced persons, refugees, host community members, and other populations affected by the LRA. The United States also continues to provide development assistance to support the return of displaced people, reconstruction, and recovery in northern Uganda, where the LRA carried out its brutal campaign for nearly two decades until it fled Uganda in 2006. With the LRA’s departure and Ugandan and international recovery and development efforts, northern Uganda has undergone a significant post-conflict reconstruction and recovery in just a few years. *SOURCE US Department of State/APO  ]]>

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Is Yoweri Museveni still the West’s Man in Africa? – By Angelo Izama
March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Angelo Izama*

Heavily armed members of Uganda’s elite anti-terrorism police stand guard along the neatly manicured perimeter of the US Embassy in Kampala. Occasionally they shout commands and point their guns. For security reasons you are not allowed to stop or park a car within a certain radius of the US Embassy on plot 1577 Ggaba Road, Kampala. Offenders tend to be first time visa applicants.

Security in Uganda, and especially in the capital city, Kampala, is ubiquitous. Armed men and women can be found every 100 meters on the airport road when the country is hosting visiting dignitaries. Ggaba road, where the embassy sits, is a busy road with privileged traffic. Ear-splitting sirens hustle ordinary commuters out of the way as armed convoys shuttle big men to and from the nearby Speke Resort Hotel, a posh conference centre sitting on the edge of Lake Victoria.

The conference centre regularly hosts meetings of African heads of state and other ‘dignitaries’, such as the African Union summit in 2010, the Commonwealth meeting in 2007, and in 2013, the peace negotiations of the DRC’s warring factions. Uganda too has found herself at the center of political and military negotiations, with her president of 27 years, Yoweri Museveni, frequently playing the key role of intermediary.

It is a role that has made him indispensible to those seeking a reliable anchor in a region that is no stranger to violent conflict. In the last few years Kenya buckled under ethnic violence and was followed this year by South Sudan – traditional trouble spots like Congo have now been overtaken by the total breakdown of the Central African Republic.

Recently, Mr. Museveni made himself the centre of a global debate on the rights of gay people by signing into law new legislation imposing harsh sentences for homosexuality. However, at the nerve centre of this public theatre is not the gay debate, but Mr. Museveni’s increasingly public show of independence from traditional western partners who have, until now, enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with him. This has been driven mainly by peace and security concerns in the Great Lakes region.

That the West is losing influence here is not simply a fact, but within Uganda’s political transition it is also a necessity.  Museveni epitomizes a generic formulation within Western foreign policy making in Africa dating back to the cold war, where strong (pro-western) leaders are supported as anchorage for a wide range of interests centred on security and stability.

When he runs for re-election in 2016, Museveni will have been a sitting president for three decades, a period accounting for more than half the political life of most independent African states, and one of the longest reigns in recent history. The Ugandan establishment is essentially a military one. Mr. Museveni’s armed convoys, disruptive as they are overwhelming- a show of power, lead the way for Uganda’s political gliterrati. The armed escorts are also a status symbol — the new bling for the privileged classes whose upper echelons are senior military loyalists.

There are hardly any exit routes from a system with Mr. Museveni at its head. In February, ruling party MPs led by a younger fringe known within their ranks as “the new face of the resistance” forced the rest to acknowledge Mr. Museveni as the sole candidate of the NRM. His Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, the only credible alternative, is being picketed within the party, setting the stage for what appears to be a showdown between the two men. Publicly Mr. Mbabazi says he will follow party rules for choosing a successor, but insiders are concerned that despite his influence with voting delegates any challenge mounted by him can succeed only if Uganda’s security establishment endorses it.  And here Mr. Museveni has a distinct advantage. The more likely scenario is that the “old man with the hat” intends to anoint a successor, not be forced to concede to one.

Outside the NRM, the party faces virtually no significant political opposition while Uganda’s laws make it increasingly difficult for ordinary citizens to question the government. A new post-Arab spring ‘Public Order’ management law (it initially mooted police permission for any gatherings of 2 or more people) and other laws limiting freedom of association and expression have virtually outlawed criticism of the government.  It’s this edifice of incumbency that poses a practical challenge for both foreign governments and domestic political forces seeking to define a future beyond Mr. Museveni.

The Ugandan military establishment has governed through the leadership of five US presidents, what will be a total of almost eight presidential terms by 2016, when the US and Uganda will both hold their next elections. This establishment has not just survived, but thrived in power, and the regime has employed a strategy of giving to the West what the West wants – a reliable partner in regional security. Defense spending has soared – in 2011 the country spent over a billion dollars (the highest in East Africa).  The money was drawn from  Consolidated Fund of Uganda – described by one commentator as the ATM machine of the president. No prior parliamentary approval was sought, nor did it meet with broad disapproval. Donors including the US were silent. Many would be persuaded that change here may be more disruptive than business as usual, especially considering the chaos of post-revolution North Africa or Syria.

Uganda anchors US policy in central Africa, which is dominated by security concerns and, after 9/11, by terrorism. Kampala has supplied her soldiers for ‘peacekeeping’ operations in Somalia where the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) did the heavy lifting against Al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate.  Just north in Sudan, Uganda has also backed US policy, being long-time allies of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. Since 1986, Ugandan troops have seen action in Rwanda, where Paul Kagame, a former senior officer in the Ugandan army, now leads, in the DRC, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Sudan. Kampala is the political equivalent of a brokerage firm for rebels, rebellions and peace missions. It has more troops abroad than any other country aside from the US itself. The head of that firm is Mr. Museveni. The West is his biggest client with a resource hungry China waiting anxiously outside. In fact, China’s investments backed by sovereign wealth funds have already replaced aid as the main source of government revenue – including rents for the political elite.

At plot 1577, the real emphasis is the DoD’s relationship with the Ugandan military. The US military considers the UPDF one of the most professional African armies. But the fusion between the military and the government means that diplomats speak with forked tongues about generic US interests of promoting democracy and prosperity. Uganda’s mainstream opposition, itself comprised of Mr. Museveni’s former military colleagues, accuses Washington of not using its leverage to loosen Mr. Museveni’s grip on power.

In the wake of the anti-gay kerfuffle Obama warned Mr. Museveni that relations with America would suffer, but unless and until the security relationship is recalibrated Washington’s options won’t improve.

That is because Uganda’s position also comes with considerable reverse leverage. And it shows. For example, despite being one of the first governments to support the International Criminal Court, Uganda led mobilization of African governments against the court, throwing its weight behind Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, an Amherst graduate accused of war crimes (it earlier signed an exception for American servicemen if accused of war crimes, of course). The case against Kenyatta is now indefinitely postponed.

President Barack Obama, while arguing that what Africa needs are strong institutions and not strong men, nonetheless deployed American combat troops in cooperation with the Ugandan military establishment, to hunt down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the most famous ICC suspect. That hunt is led by US-trained Special Forces commanded by Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Mr. Museveni’s son, himself a graduate of Fort Leavenworth.   As seen from the response of Ugandans to the perceived bullying of the country in the wake of the anti-gay law, many are supportive of any measure of dignity and ‘independence’ that Museveni can achieve on the regional and global stage. At home they look to the predictability of his years in government.

*Source African Arguments.Angelo Izama is a Ugandan journalist and former OSI Fellow. He is working on a book manuscript on the politics of Uganda’s newly discovered oil resources.

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Obama’s dilemma in 2015 budget proposals for East African countries
March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Kevin Kelley and Mwaura Kimani* [caption id="attachment_8783" align="alignleft" width="300"]In Kenya, the ICC cases remain key as Uganda and Rwanda refuse to blink. Tanzania seen as Washington’s footprint. TEA Graphic/Photos/FILE In Kenya, the ICC cases remain key as Uganda and Rwanda refuse to blink. Tanzania seen as Washington’s footprint. TEA Graphic/Photos/FILE[/caption] US President Barack Obama’s administration is grappling with difficult decisions in balancing abuse of human rights concerns against other priorities in its relationship with East Africa.

These include a shared desire to counter terrorism, ongoing development and humanitarian priorities, and other foreign policy goals.
The latest budget proposals unveiled last week by President Obama show that the US government intends to maintain or slightly increase most forms of assistance to East African countries, a development analysts say highlights Washington’s dilemma.
The proposals came as the fallout between Uganda and donors deepened, two weeks after President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality law.
The US delegation to Uganda has announced it has begun an internal review of its relationship with Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of their engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold anti-discrimination policies and principles that reflect their values.
Other factors affecting the relationship between the US and East Africa include the conflict in South Sudan and security threats posed by the Al Shabaab terror group.
Analysts say the status quo in US-EA relations would be hard to sustain should the Congress approve President Obama’s recommendations as submitted; aid would rise sharply in a few instances and decrease moderately in others.
For example, the US president is seeking a reduction in development aid to both Rwanda and Uganda.
The proposed cuts for the coming fiscal year — from $62 million to $48 million for Rwanda, and from $68 million to $56 million for Uganda — may be intended to give concrete form to the Obama administration’s criticism of policies in both countries that it views as repressive.
The US has roundly and repeatedly condemned the Anti-Homosexuality law in Uganda, and has disapproved what it terms as stifling dissent by the Rwanda government.
At the same time, however, President Obama is seeking small increases in military assistance to both Rwanda and Uganda, suggesting that the US does not intend to distance itself from the two countries it views as key allies in the region.
Development assistance would also be marginally reduced for Kenya — from $97 million to $91 million. It is not clear whether the reduction is linked to relations between the two countries.
Analysts say the election last year of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto continues to present donor governments, including the US, with diplomatic challenges. They say the pair’s continued compliance with the International Criminal Court holds the key to future engagements between Nairobi and global powers. The US federal budget section for the State Department envisions a slight drop in military training funding for Kenya, but an increase for a separate military aid programme. The White House also plans to expand HIV/Aids treatment and prevention in Kenya, along with other health programmes.
The dilemma for Obama and other donors is what to do about leaders who may want assistance but will not agree to be told what to do or how to behave, like Western powers used to do during the Cold War, said a political analyst who did not wish to be named due to his engagements with governments in the region.
He added: “Ever since Uganda discovered oil and as progress towards commercial exploitation advances, donors have become nervous. President Museveni has never been the easiest of ‘clients’ to manage in terms of getting him to behave in particular ways or do certain things. So ‘managing’ him has always been difficult. Donors are now asking how they will ‘manage’ an independent-minded President Museveni with less need for aid and plenty of oil dollars.”
According to the analyst, President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill amid clear signs of fallouts with donors had confirmed the Wests worst fears.
“In Rwanda, donors also have a problem in the form of a president who is not prepared to toe the line on anything. He has a mind of his own and leads a government full of people with similar instincts. When they cut aid, of course Rwanda’s economy suffered. But the country has responded by trying to diversify its sources,” he added.
Tanzania is considered an important country for US business interests and foreign policy, given the risk of terrorism on the coast of East Africa and the ongoing efforts to find peace in the Great Lakes region.
President Obama’s visit to Tanzania in July 2013 was seen as a re-assertion of the US footprint in the region, particularly in the context of securing future energy supplies.
It also underscored Tanzania¹s rising importance in the region, largely thanks to its recent massive hydrocarbon discoveries.
Tanzania’s natural gas reserves are estimated at 41.7 trillion cubic feet, and US oil and gas giant Exxon has already laid claim to a large natural gas deposit off the coast.
The country’s booming extractive industry makes it attractive to many investors, not just the US — Obama’s visit came just months after China’s new president Xi Jinping had finished a tour of the resource-rich country.
But extremism is on the rise in Tanzania, and hardline Islamist groups such as Uamsho — whose ideology is similar to the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam — are increasingly compromising Tanzania’s image as the bedrock of stability in the region.
In its proposals, President Obama’s administration wants to provide more than $80 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for efforts to avert human rights violations, treat victims of sexual violence and reform the DRC army.
Mr Obama is further urging Congress to provide millions of dollars in additional aid to South Sudan’s army and government. The President’s request for large-scale assistance to South Sudan follows the February 26 announcement by a US special envoy that some military aid for Juba was being withheld. Mr Obama is asking for $36 million in the next fiscal year for South Sudan’s army as well as $225 million in economic support for a variety of initiatives by the government headed by President Salva Kiir.
According to the budget documents, the $36 million outlay would go to “support the rebuilding of a fractured military and support the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) continuing efforts to transform from an oversized, disintegrated rebel force to an appropriately-sized professional military.”
At the same time, President Obama’s proposed budget calls for a modest reduction in US military-training funds for the SPLA.
The envisioned cut — from $759,000 this year to $650,000 next year — may reflect the Obama administration’s recently revealed decision to withhold an unspecified amount of aid for the SPLA and transfer it to the ceasefire verification efforts of East African monitors deployed in South Sudan.
Ambassador Donald Booth, the US special envoy for both South Sudan and Sudan, criticised the Juba-based government while informing Congress of the plan to suspend a portion of the aid given to the SPLA.
President Kiir’s administration has failed to fully address the causes of the violence ravaging South Sudan, Ambassador Booth said two weeks ago.
The US president is also asking for an additional $20 million to enhance South Sudan’s capacity to provide “civilian security and basic justice services.”
In a move by Washington to thaw relations with Khartoum, the budget proposals include $9.5 million in aid for Sudan’s government. These funds would be spent to help resolve disputes between Khartoum and Juba, to improve conditions in Darfur, and to promote peace in “marginalised areas” of the country.
Somalia’s government, said by UN monitors to be guilty of egregious corruption, is slated to receive $79 million in US aid.
Djibouti, the host of a large US military base, is in line for a sharp increase in development aid from $1.9 million to $10 million.
President Obama will invite 47 leaders to a US-Africa summit in August. The summit, together with Obama’s trip to Africa last year, and a promised future visit before he leaves office, may assuage disappointment that he did not pay the continent more attention in his first term. *Source East African   
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President Museveni's speech at Anti-gay Bill signing
February 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa. Initially, I did not pay much attention to it because I was busy with the immediate issues of defense, security, electricity, the roads, the railways, factories, modernization of agriculture, etc. When, eventually, I concentrated my mind on it, I distilled three problems: 1. those who were promoting homo-sexuality and recruiting normal people into it; 2. as a consequence of No. 1 above, many of those recruited were doing so for mercenary reasons – to get money – in effect homosexual prostitutes; these mercenary homosexual prostitutes had to be punished; 3. Homosexuals exhibiting themselves; Africans are flabbergasted by exhibitionism of sexual acts – whether heterosexual or otherwise and for good reason. Why do you exhibit your sexual conduct? Are you short of opportunity for privacy – where you can kiss, fondle (kukirigiita, kwagaaga) etc.? Are we interested in seeing your sexual acts – we the Public? I am not able to understand the logic of the Western Culture. However, we Africans always keep our opinions to ourselves and never seek to impose our point of view on the others. If only they could let us alone. It was my view that the above three should be punished harshly in order to defend our society from disorientation. Therefore, on these three I was in total accord with the MPs and other Ugandans. I had, however, a problem with Category 4 or what I thought was category 4 – those “born” homosexual. I thought there were such people – those who are either genetic or congenital homosexuals. The reason I thought so was because I could not understand why a man could fail to be attracted to the beauties of a woman and, instead, be attracted to a fellow man. It meant, according to me, that there was something wrong with that man – he was born a homosexual – abnormal. I, therefore, thought that it would be wrong to punish somebody because of how he was created, disgusting though it may be to us. That is why I refused to sign the Bill. In order to get to the truth, we involved Uganda Scientists as well as consulting Scientists from outside Uganda. My question to them was: “Are there people that are homosexual right from birth?”. After exhaustive studies, it has been found that homosexuality is in two categories: there are those who engage in homosexuality for mercenary reasons on account of the under – developed sectors of our economy that cause people to remain in poverty, the great opportunities that abound not withstanding; and then there are those that become homosexual by both nature (genetic) and nurture (up-bringing). The studies that were done on identical twins in Sweden showed that 34% – 39% were homosexual on account of nature and 66% were homosexual on account of nurture. Therefore, even in those studies, nurture was more significant than nature. Can somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is: “No”. No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill. Since Western societies do not appreciate politeness, let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders. One of them is “oral sex”. Our youth should reject this because God designed the human being most appropriately for pleasurable, sustainable and healthy sex. Some of the traditional styles are very pleasurable and healthy. The mouth is not engineered for that purpose except kissing. Besides, it is very unhealthy. People can even contract gonorrhea of the mouth and throat on account of so-called “oral sex”, not to mention worms, hepatitis E, etc. The Ministry of Gender and Youth should de-campaign this buyayism imported from outside and sensitize the youth about the healthy life style that is abundant in our cultures. We reject the notion that somebody can be homosexual by choice; that a man can choose to love a fellow man; that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Since my original thesis that there may be people who are born homosexual has been disproved by science, then the homosexuals have lost the argument in Uganda. They should rehabilitate themselves and society should assist them to do so. Yoweri K. Museveni Gen. (Rtd) P R E S I D E N T 24th February, 2014.]]>

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Museveni commissions works for multimillion dollar economic zone
February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Yoweri Museveni has called for the protection of government land including that vacated by refugees saying it can be used to attract investors who will build growth centres to attract people from poverty. [caption id="attachment_8632" align="alignleft" width="300"]President Yoweri Museveni chatting with the Turkish Investor Sitki Ayan during the launch of the Special Economic zone in Kaweweta .PHOTO /ABU MWESIGWA newvision President Yoweri Museveni chatting with the Turkish Investor Sitki Ayan during the launch of the Special Economic zone in Kaweweta .PHOTO /ABU MWESIGWA
newvision[/caption] “I have brought you these rich people to get you out of poverty. This land used to belong to West Mengo Cooperative society but after the war we bought it for the army. When we got Turkish investors looking for land to invest, I said we have our land here. Our people need weapons, bullets, uniform etc, these people want to put factories here, a modern abattoir, milk and fruit processing plants, a facility for modern agro production and a factory with equipment for textiles. They are also interested in medicinal herbs and aromatic herbs which our local people know. These cost a lot of money abroad. This will become a town for factories, a growth centre to attract people from poverty,” he said. The President was Tuesday presiding over the ground breaking ceremony for a US$300million, 18 square miles facility that will also house a beef production zone, host a world class abattoir to consume about 400 cows a day, breeding of new strains of livestock, feeding and production areas, slaughter houses, packing facilities and maintenance hall for the cattle depository. The development follows an earlier meeting in 2012 during which President Museveni held talks with the Turkish investors led by the ASB Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sitki Ayan over business opportunities in Uganda particularly the creation of a special economic zone. The President warned Ugandans against land fragmentation saying it creates problems and does not attract investments said there is a lot of market in Turkey for products such as coffee which will be produced and processed here before export. On the issue of compensation for the 149 families displaced by the development, President Museveni wondered why they would be compensated since they are the ones who encroached on government land. He however said all families should be registered while a solution for them is sought. He pledged to provide two milk cooler trucks for the sub counties of Kanyogoga and Ngoma to collect milk for sell in Kampala. The President also directed local leaders to investigate and cause to be arrested people involved in bush burning, an activity which has led to the destruction of various pine forests worth billions of shillings. He also pledged to provide two water tankers to large scale cattle keepers who want to transport water for their animals as long as they fuel them. ASB Group Chairman Sitki Ayan said the project once completed will be the biggest in the world and will provide contract farming for locals, create vast employment opportunities and provide modern technology in environmental and infrastructure development. He said Uganda has the potential to be the centre for production, distribution and processing for the whole of Africa. Turkey already has its largest textile industry in Ethiopia and with such a big investment in beef production Uganda will have secured a major business development. According to statistics, trade between Turkey and Uganda has grown in the past decade from about sh4.6b in 2003 to about sh51b in 2009. The Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, General Charles Angina said the investment will empower them economically and strengthen their means to improve their defence and weaponry systems. Initially the Uganda Land Commission led by the Chairman Baguma Isoke exchanged agreements with the Turkish investors to cement the deal for the special economic zone programme witnessed by the Minister of state for Finance in charge of planning Matia Kasaija. *New Vision]]>

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EAC launches common market scorecard
February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

The East African Community has launched a scorecard to monitor the implementation of the Common Market among its five member states. Dr. Richard SeziberaEntitled, “East African Common Market Scorecard 2014: Tracking EAC compliance in the movement of capital, services and goods,” the report was prepared with the support of the World Bank Group. The scorecard examines selected commitments made by the partner states, outlines progress in removing legislative and regulatory restrictions to the protocol, and recommends reform measures. Addressing delegates at the launch of the report in Arusha on Tuesday, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera said that all partner states were expected to remove internal tariffs, implement a common external tariff, and remove non-tariff barriers to trade, among other commitments. “If implemented, these measures will have a profound and positive impact on the economies of the partner states.” East African countries, Dr Sezibera said, had committed themselves not to introduce new restrictions, and to eliminate existing ones. The scorecard, he said, would assist in these efforts by keeping track of progress on commitments to the protocol. “It is about identifying those areas where we are doing well and strengthening them. And also about identifying those areas where reforms are required to meet the expectations of deepened integration.” In her closing remarks, the chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Mrs Phyllis Kandie, said that the region’s citizens were eager to exploit the vast potential of a well-functioning Common Market. “They would like to enjoy the benefits that come along with market integration. Due to slow pace of implementing the protocol, the optimism among East Africans during the launch of the protocol is slowly fading away and being replaced by some level of despair.” The East African Business Council executive director Andrew Luzze pointed out that an important criterion for cross-border investment and foreign direct investment is a facilitative and predictable business environment across the EAC Common Market. “An important aspect of this is that rules, regulations and other administrative actions governing the movement of capital, services, and goods, should exist only to ensure public safety and fair competition – never to stifle legitimate businesses. Catherine Masinde, the head of investment climate for East and Southern Africa at the International Finance Corporation, said that some of the measures that have worked against the aims of the Common Market include the application of charges equivalent to tariffs, technical barriers to trade, non-recognition of rules-of-origin certificates, nationality and residency requirements before offering services, restrictions in ownership of firms, and discriminatory tax treatment for investors from other partner states. “The scorecard identifies such restrictions, and recommends their removal, so that the common market can operate as a single destination.” The scorecard report makes four key recommendations: Complete elimination of tariffs and equivalent measures; elimination of non-tariff barriers; greater effective implementation of the common external tariff; and continuation of the process of harmonization and mutual recognition of sanitary and phytosanitary standards as well as standards preventing technical barriers to trade. East African News Agency/New Vision]]>

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Museveni plays peacemaker by day and combatant by night in South Sudan
February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Lesley Anne Warner*   Yoweri Museveni and Salva Kiir during the recent negotiations in Addis Ababa on South Sudan.Within days of the outbreak of the violence in mid-December, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) deployed to South Sudan at the government’s invitation. The UPDF’s mission at the outset was ostensibly to evacuate the over 200,000stranded Ugandan nationals and to secure strategic installations in Juba. However, several weeks into the operation, President Yoweri Museveni disclosed that the UPDF was also involved in combat operations alongside government forces. Indeed, the UPDF’s helicopter gunships, heavy artillery, tanks, and approximately 1,600 soldiers have been instrumental in helping the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) retake cities held by anti-government forces affiliated with former Vice President Riek Machar. In a motion passedin the Ugandan parliament to retroactively approve UPDF operations, the UPDF’s raison d’être in South Sudan was couched in terms of protecting the Ugandan expatriate community, ensuring Ugandan national security, and preventing genocide and other atrocities against humanity. Nevertheless, the manner in which Uganda is securing its interests compromises concurrent efforts on the part of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), of which Uganda is a member, to mediate the crisis. Although one of Machar’s ‘red-lines’ prior to signing an IGAD-brokered Cessation of Hostilities had been the presence of the UPDF in South Sudan, he quickly exhaustedany diplomatic or military leverage to strengthen his hand at the negotiating table. The Cessation of Hostilities signed last week between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (represented by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in-Opposition stipulatesthat “armed groups and allied forces invited by either side” should be redeployed and/or progressively withdrawn. Yet, IGAD as a whole is yet to pressure Uganda to cease playing the diametrically opposed roles of combatant and peacemaker in South Sudan. Museveni has long seen the stability of South Sudan as an important element of Uganda’s national security, and has demonstrated his willingness to intervene in South Sudan’s internal and external disputes. During a period of particularly heightened tensions between Sudan and South Sudan in April 2012, Museveni announcedUganda’s willingness to intervene on the part of the latter in the event of full-scale war. In addition, between 2010 and 2011, the late General George Athor led the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A), which was one of the strongest anti-government armed groups at the time. In December 2011, Museveni invited Athor to Uganda to participate in a confidential discussion of a Ugandan initiative to sponsor peace talks between the SSDM/A and the Government of South Sudan. Days later, Athor was killed in an ambush with the SPLA in Central Equatoria, allegedly en route to recruit additional fighters in a part of South Sudan that was well outside his normal operating area of Jonglei. The SSDM/A and other anti-SPLA armed groups subsequently accused Museveni of having Athor assassinated in Kampala and staging his death by ambush in Equatoria. Coupled with his alleged complicity in Athor’s death, Museveni’s December 2013 threat that the nations of East Africa had agreed to go after Machar should he refuse to accept a ceasefire with the Government of South Sudan, demonstrates that Museveni’s interests are more aligned with maintaining the pre-crisis status quo than creating the space for a political settlement. Museveni’s relationship with the SPLA spans four decades. During the civil war, Uganda not only provided financial and military assistance to the SPLA to fight the Government of Sudan, but the UPDF was even involved in direct combat operations in South Sudan. Museveni’s wartime support for the SPLA was especially critical between 1991 and 1993 – after the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) toppled the Derg regime, severed Ethiopian support for the SPLA, and expelled them from their rear bases. Furthermore, the additional setback posed by Machar’s attempt to unseat the late John Garang as head of the SPLA just months after the loss of the SPLA’s primary source of foreign support made Ugandan support during this time period vital. In retribution for Uganda’s support for the SPLA, the Government of Sudan funneled support to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) through Machar and other anti-SPLA groups to destabilize South Sudan and Uganda. When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between Sudan and South Sudan, Machar, who had come back into the SPLA fold, was the lead negotiator for unsuccessful peace talks with the LRA. Due to the collapse of the peace talks in 2008 and Machar’s history of shifting loyalties, Museveni may be concerned that if Machar came to power in South Sudan, he could reignite his civil war-era relationships with Khartoum and the LRA to destabilize Uganda, despite the fact that the LRA is at its weakest point in years. Aside from protecting Ugandans in South Sudan and ensuring Ugandan national security, Uganda also framed its intervention in terms of a need to prevent “genocidal and other atrocities against humanity.” Minister of Defence Crispus Kiyonga stated, “Africa must learn to defend itself. We saw what happened in Rwanda. Millions of people were killed as African states and [the] UN looked on. We must not allow a repeat.” As the international community prepares to commemorate the 20thanniversary of the Rwandan genocide, such overt references seek to cast Uganda’s intervention in a moral, humanitarian light so as not to reveal Museveni’s actualrealpolitik motivations. Yet, actions speak louder than words. By acting as a pro-government combatant rather than in a civilian protection capacity, Uganda has proved that its rationale of preventing genocide in South Sudan had no real merit. Considering Uganda’s longstanding linkages to the current Government of South Sudan and Museveni’s professed anti-Machar sentiments, UPDF operations should have occurred under the auspices of IGAD, and with an African Union or United Nations mandate restricted to protecting civilians and strategic installations once its mission surpassed the evacuation of Ugandan nationals. Instead, Uganda’s current roles as both combatant and peace broker run the risk of damaging what is supposed to be a legitimate and nonpartisan IGAD mediation process. * Source African Arguments.Lesley Anne Warner is an Africa analyst at CNA’s Center for Strategic Studies and blogs on African politics and security at Lesley on Africa. Follow her on twitter  @lesley_warner]]>

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He started in his teens with just $14. Now he's a 21-year-old paper bag king
January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Teo Kermeliotis and Jessica Ellis* [caption id="attachment_8132" align="alignleft" width="300"]Andrew Mupuya is the founder of Uganda's first registered paper bag company. Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI) is supplying restaurants, supermarkets and medical centers in Kampala Andrew Mupuya is the founder of Uganda’s first registered paper bag company. Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI) is supplying restaurants, supermarkets and medical centers in Kampala[/caption] Award-winning entrepreneur Andrew Mupuya was just 16 years old when he decided to take on the world.That was back in 2008, when both of Mupuya’s parents had lost their jobs and could only afford to cover his school fees. “I had to get to meet my basic needs by myself,” remembers the Ugandan businessman. “I decided to face the world alone.” Inadvertently, the government of Uganda came to Mupuya’s aid. At the time, officials in the country announced that they were considering a ban on plastic bags to curb environmental damage. Mupuya, who was still in secondary school, immediately saw this as an opportunity to launch a paper bag production company. “I conducted a feasibility study, market research around retail shops, kiosks, supermarkets around Kampala and discovered there is need and potential market for paper bags.” To start out his small operation, Mupuya figured out he needed a capital of 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($14). He raised the first $11 from selling 70 kilos of used plastic bottles he’d collected over one week. Mupuya then borrowed the remaining $3 from his school teacher and embarked on his entrepreneurial journey producing paper bags on a small scale. Since then, the business has grown extensively and today, at the age of 21, Mupuya is the owner of Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI), the first registered Ugandan company to make paper bags. The young entrepreneur employs 16 people who produce up to 20,000 paper bags each week. His long list of clients includes restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, medical centers, as well as multinational companies like Samsung — YELI has made about 1,000 niche bags for the local stores of the electronics company.‎ “Right now I have 72 clients,” says Mupuya. “Ninety per cent of our clients always come back.” Green impact Mupuya’s remarkable achievements and shrewd business skills have been recognized with a number of accolades in recent years. In 2012, Mupuya was the winner of the $30,000 Anzisha Prize, a major award given to young African entrepreneurial leaders who take the initiative to address critical needs in their communities. “The awards I have won give me courage to push on with my business,” says the young entrepreneur. “It shows to me how I am doing the right thing and it helps me define the impact am creating.” Uganda has attempted to ban plastic bags in a bid to deal with its acute waste management problem and promote environmental conservation. Yet, they are still used in Kampala and often block drainage systems or collect in heaps on the side of the road. [caption id="attachment_8133" align="alignright" width="300"]Mupuya employs 16 staff who produce up to 20,000 bags a week from inside a small workshop near the bustling center of Kampala. Mupuya employs 16 staff who produce up to 20,000 bags a week from inside a small workshop near the bustling center of Kampala.[/caption] Mupuya, however, believes Ugandans will eventually choose paper over plastic and he even plans to build a recycling operation. “A paper bag is eco-friendly, it can easily decompose,” he says. “But plastic bags take too long, so that is the difference.” ‘Just the start’ For now, Mupuya sources his paper from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. His business is housed in Kasokoso, a slum just outside Kampala’s bustling city center. Here, everything is done by hand and with precision. YELI employees turn out thousands of bags daily, cutting the paper manually and then folding it and gluing it appropriately. But this takes time, and as customer numbers grow, the team cannot keep up with the increasing orders. Mupuya says one of the biggest challenges for his startup right now is supply and demand. “It needs time to produce the right quality and quantity to all clients, because it’s run manually,” he says. “(It’s) quite hard to catch up with some clients who are used to cheap plastic bags,” adds Mupuya. “My next step is to get a machine because I am only able to supply 5% of the demands I have.” Yet Mupuya says that this is a problem that most clients understand, pushing him to keep thinking big and press ahead with his plans to promote environmental conservation. “My vision is to have a cleaner Africa by eradicating use of plastic bags and emphasis on paper recycling,” he says. “I dream of having a big plant where I am able to supply paper bags all over Africa,” adds Mupuya, “putting emphasis on sensitizing about environmental conservation.” “So I believe this is just the start.” *Source CNN]]>

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931 FAMILIES EXCHANGE LABOR FOR WATER IN UGANDA
January 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Nelson Kukundakwe* [caption id="attachment_8021" align="alignleft" width="300"]Children coming from fetching water (1) Children coming from fetching water (1)[/caption] Access to clean water is one of the major Millennium development goals slated to be attained before 2015, but with just a year away, residents of Bunusya in kakiika division Mbarara district western Uganda yesterday chose to give out there labor in the exchange of clean water after being pushed to the walls. The decision to volunteer their labor was unanimously reached yesterday in a community meeting that was held at Bunusya cell western Uganda. It follows an official letter that was received from the water and environment minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu. In the letter, the minister was responding to the demands they had submitted in 2010 demanding for the clean gravity water scheme. Speaking in the meeting, residents expressed relief over the given support saying it’s been a long awaited for development “since 1961, I have suffered water shortage and I had wanted electricity but I have gotten non” said George Kasigaire an elder in the village “since this has come up and it’s a social need, we have to pay any price so as to seize it” he added with a notable smile over his face Immaculate Katushabe another resident interjected noting the burden they go through in trying to raise the family without water, she pleaded to men for quick intervention saying it is what delays them from puying food on the table because they tread long distances for water “Men please, kindly come to our rescue by giving in your labor at will” she implored “it takes us 2 to 3 hours to get a Jerrycan of water that is even too dirty” she imploringly added. Residents in Bunusya and Rwemigina up to now depend on seasonal rain water and resort to swamp water when ponds deplete during a dry spells. They say on top of fearing for their children who have to penetrate the thick swamp for water, they also fear for their health. “this swamp never dries up at least but on top of our children who move more than 2km for water, we also fear for our health because this water is contaminated, all exhausts from Mbarara municipality and uphill collect here” says Stephen Muhumuza a resident. He told pan African vision that 3 children have so far drowned in the swamp in a stretch of 2 years past. Considering the geographical terrain, all the two parishes of Bunusya and Kamurangire with their 11 cells lie in the valley and the Akashengye swamp is the only existing catchment to exhausts from Mbarara town. The chairperson Lc3 for Kakiika division Benon Muganga said the scheme will not compensate anyone whose property such as land will be encroached on noting that the government did not give them any money for the scheme. “We expect residents to lend us their land out of free will because this came in as an offer that is to our benefit” he said adding that residents will give in a helping hand in digging pavements for underground water pipes that will cover a 6km distance from Koranorya to Bunusya and Kamurangire. While chairing the meeting, the district LC5 Godfrey Baryomunsi said the work is projected to take 3 months before completion, however, Emmanuel Mujuni the National water Engineer said the quick progress of the process will depend on how fast the community plays the part it committed itself too. Baryomunsi urged residents to avoid politicizing the scheme and cooperate in volunteering this free service. Over 930 families with 9200 population have been affected by this water shortage. *Journalist at Radio west/Vision group]]>

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South Sudan: Understanding Museveni’s Intervention in South Sudan
January 14, 2014 | 1 Comments

BY ATHIAAN MAJAK MALOU*

The entrance of Ugandan armed forces known as Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) insides the territory of South Sudan following the recent crisis has generated mixed reactions in South Sudan and Uganda. Some South Sudanese saw it as meddling into affairs of South Sudan or taking side in an internal conflict. While others saw it as a stabilising force to prevent chaos and maintain peace and order especially inside Juba city and along Juba-Nimule road, which is the lifeline to South Sudan.

In Uganda, some members of parliament criticised the President for having sent the national army for a combat, rescuing or peace-keeping mission abroad without approval from the legislature, as required by the constitution. Others saw it as a dangerous move because it would make Ugandan nationals who are everywhere in South Sudan to be regarded as partisans in the conflict by the other rival, endangering their lives.

Responding to this criticism, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the Ugandan government spokesman made a number of justifications in a document recently published by the New Vision, a daily newspaper affiliated to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Being in charge of Public Relations (PR) to government of Uganda, Mr Opondo gave the following explanations as justifications for the presence of UPDF in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS).

1. Under section 39 of UPDF Act 2005 the president can deploy soldiers outside the country through consultation with the speaker of the parliament. This was done pending an opportunity when Parliament convenes to be briefed and perhaps endorse. (Ugandan Parliament is currently on recess).

2. The president indeed sent a small but robust contingent of UPDF troops at the request of the legitimate government of RSS under President Salva Kiir on Dec 16th, 2013, which is allowed under the UN charter and protocol, if a friendly country asks for assistance.

3. Uganda is a member of IGAD. It Is IGAD currently chaired by Ethiopia that is leading all initiatives in full consultations with AU and UNSC.

4. Ethiopian PM who is the current chair of AU with his foreign affairs minister chairs the IGAD council of ministers. He visited Juba on Dec 19th, 2013 and held initial talks with Salva Kiir.

5. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon has said publically that he had requested President Museveni to help in RSS political crisis, depending on the situation on the ground. The bloodletting that was seen in the first two days, made it clear there was a real possibility of RSS descending into real ethnic cleansing, genocide and failed state.

6. The initial mission of UPDF was twofold, first, to secure Juba International Airport, and to evacuate thousands of Ugandans estimated to be 50,000 of which 8,000 were in Juba and other foreign nationals who were either injured, trapped, scattered or hiding in the bushes.

7. Securing Juba airport has been done by UPDF and is a huge success. Securing airport meant that evacuation can and has been conducted safely by Uganda, UN and other countries who wish to evacuate their nationals. It also means that fresh humanitarian, medical supplies and assistance can be flown to those in need. It further means that the airport remains opens and safe for international and commercial flights.

8. The UPDF has also secured the 190km Juba-Nimule road corridor to enable people leave RSS and for supplies to enter Juba. Since then UPDF has put a stop to the orgy of looting, killing and bloodletting to enable the government of SS to concentrate on pacifying other parts of the country. There are no killings in those parts controlled by the government.

9. The effect of Ugandan’s positive and effective interventions enabled Rebecca Garang to leave house arrest and go to Nairobi and 2 out of the 11 arrested former government officials have been released. President Salva Kiir has accepted to cease fire and gone for negotiations which have started in Addis Ababa.

10. President Museveni warning to Riek Machar was not a threat but caution from leaders who met in Nairobi that any party which continues with war, especially against civilians unarmed combatants, would be dealt with by the region.

Anybody with clear and unprejudiced mind may see a lot of sense in what the government spokesman of Uganda has explained above. I’m saying this because the current crisis has overwhelmed everybody in South Sudan because it is affecting all of us physically, economically, politically and socially. It has terribly divided many of our people politically and socially on ethnic lines. Yet the truth must be said. Some of us are academics who analyse things critically and objectively. That way, we can know the truth.

What did not come out clearly in Mr Opondo’s justification is the fact that the economy of Uganda is very much intertwined with South Sudan. There are thousands of Ugandans working or doing business in South Sudan. South Sudan buys most of its goods and service such as education and health from Uganda. A perennial insecurity and instability would definitely affect Ugandan economy. As such, there is need to nip it in the bud.

As South Sudanese, Uganda under the leadership President Museveni has stood with us during the war. Museveni was the only leader in the region who could openly challenge President Bashir of Sudan on the issues of South-North relationships of the old Sudan. During the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement inside Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on 9th January 2005, Museveni openly said that, “The people who are wearing turbans (referring to Northern Sudanese) and those people who are wearing ostrich feathers (referring to Southern Sudanese) can never be one.” No another leader of a country could have dared to say that publically because they fear the impact of such statements on the economic and diplomatic relationships between the states.

Many people believe that President Museveni who had already made a lot of sacrifices in protecting the interest of the people of South Sudan can never be a threat to their collective interest. However, he may be a threat to the interest of individual Southern Sudanese who think the presence of Ugandan army is obstacle to the achievement of their goal(s).

Many are aware of the fact that president Museveni may be having a vendetta with some South Sudanese politicians. For example, there is a feeling within Ugandan official circles that when Dr Riek Machar was the President of the Council of states of Southern Sudan in 1997 and beyond, he was the conduit through which military and logistical support from Khartoum used to come to the notorious Joseph Kony of Lord Resistance Army (LRA). Museveni was also a friend to Dr John Garang and the enemy of your friend is your enemy.

Many believe that the current crisis is due to the failure of key institutions of governance of South Sudan. Our army (SPLA) is notoriously indiscipline and has been witnessed in Juba crisis when some members of organised forces went on killing and looting spree. Such a situation leaves no option than inviting a trusted neighbour to put things in order.

Similar interventions have been witnessed in other parts of the world. The 1999 East Timorese crisis began with attacks by anti-independence militants on civilians, and expanded to general violence throughout the country, centered in the capital Dili. The violence erupted after a majority of eligible voters in the population of East Timor chose independence from Indonesia. Some 1,400 civilians were killed. Australian Prime Minister John Howard consulted United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and lobbied U. S. President Bill Clinton to support an Australian led intervention to enter East Timor to end the violence.

As explained, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon has said publically that he had requested President Museveni to help in RSS political crisis, depending on the situation on the ground. The bloodletting that was seen in the first two days, made it clear there was a real possibility of RSS descending into real ethnic cleansing, genocide and failed state.

I want to end by saying that the reason for writing this article is to create a clear understanding around the debate and guess-work which has been created by the deployment of Ugandan army forces in South Sudan. It is being regarded by some as a part of problem instead of being part of solution.

But to anyone with independent mind, it has something to do with our own weakness. It appears from what I read in local media in South Sudan that some of us are trying to vilify others (foreigners) for our own shortcomings. We should not jump into a bandwagon without proper understanding of what is happening or the intended outcome.

The author has formerly served in the government of Lakes state of South Sudan as the County Commissioner for Yirol East and state Minister for education. He can be reached at: athiaanm@yahoo.com.Originally published in Sudan Tribune

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