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Army denies allegations of US research group

A new report accuses UPDF of massive plunder of resources like diamonds and timber in the tiny and war-wracked Central African Republic (CAR) where the army is pursuing bands of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The dossier, titled 'The Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic' and authored by the New York-based Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in December 2011, alleges that some Ugandan soldiers operated a prostitution ring, raped and infected Congolese refugee girls in CAR, with the deadly HIV.

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, non-profit international organization founded in 1923. It nurtures new generations of social scientists, fosters innovative research, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues. However, army spokesman Col Felix Kulayigye, on Thursday described the report as the usual banter from self-seeking organisations attempting to account for money from donors.

"That report is unfortunate. It's from masqueraders who are trying to earn bread from our blood and sweat. The UPDF is one of the most disciplined forces in Africa and we are pro-people. Anyone can check our record", Kulayigye said.

In November 2011, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group also accused the UPDF of plundering timber, gold and diamond not only in CAR but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Culture of impunity

The report claims that government representatives in Bangui claimed that the UPDF "has allowed a culture of impunity, because those in charge were also involved in illicit activities in CAR, including illegal logging, looting of mineral resources and the sale of everything [one can] think of, from bicycles brought from Uganda on UPDF transport planes to AK 47s and bullets".

When the LRA began making incursions into CAR, President Museveni started courting the support of his counterpart, Gen Francois Bozizé. This culminated in a visit by Bozizé in August 2007, eventually sealing the deal for the UPDF to enter the country in pursuit of Joseph Kony, the elusive rebel leader. Since then, the hunt for Kony and his rebels has ensued. After escaping from the Garamba jungle pounded by helicopter gunships in a December 2008 operation, Kony has found sanctuary in French-speaking CAR. Kony and his acolytes have continued to plant a trail of bloodshed and despair in CAR, killing, abducting and looting property, especially in the towns of Obo and Djema.

This unending bloodshed persuaded the United States government to commit 100 elite soldiers to the anti-LRA effort last year. In his address to Congress on October 14, 2011, President Obama said: "I authorised a small number of combat-equipped US forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these US Armed Forces furthers US national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa".

Paralles with DRC

The latest string of allegations draws parallels with widespread accusations, including a UN report, that Ugandan soldiers were involved in looting DR Congo natural resources during an incursion between 1997 and 2003. As a result, the DRC sued Uganda at the International Court of Justice, and Uganda was ordered to pay $10bn in compensation. According to the latest report, in the first few months of UPDF's presence in CAR, government officials in Bangui were somewhat indifferent about the Ugandan army. This stance changed slightly in July 2010 when President Bozizé asked the UPDF to leave their base in Sam Ouandja and return to their initial base at Obo.

The report suggests that Bozize did that because he feared the UPDF were plundering diamonds.

"It is unclear why Bozizé asked the UPDF to stay only in Obo and Djema, but the proximity of Ugandan soldiers to the diamond mines of Sam Ouandja might have been a concern for the President", says the report. By December 2011, the report claims, dissatisfaction with the Ugandan army was barely concealed.


Timber alarm

The minister of Commerce and resident of Haut Mbomou was quoted as saying that the UPDF were not welcome in CAR as they were more interested in looting resources than chasing the LRA, according to the report. The report adds that the minister showed the author a handwritten report from the highest local official in Obo, detailing the "destruction of the Obo forest by UPDF soldiers cutting timber and transporting it in army trucks towards Bambouti and South Sudan".

According to the minister, when UPDF commanders were confronted about the timber, they said they needed it to fix bridges and roads. While it is true that the roads in CAR which the UPDF relies on to move are in a very bad condition, the minister stated that: "it is not the job of the UPDF to fix roads; certainly not the roads of southern Sudan where most of the timber is going".

According to the report, allegations of illicit logging on the part of the UPDF are not new; similar claims were made against the Ugandan army in South Sudan in the past. The report claims that local discontent with the UPDF stems primarily from the fact that the Uganda armed forces have taken too long to end the LRA menace. At a local level, the report says, Ugandan soldiers stand accused of mistreatment of women.

Prostitution and rape

A representative of an NGO with a presence in Haut Mbomou said UPDF soldiers, by bringing cash to impoverished areas, had created "a market for prostitution", fanning conflict in the local communities.

The report claims that another NGO worker said UPDF soldiers bring alcohol from Uganda and sell it or give it to young women, including underage girls. Allegations of sexual exploitation of children by UPDF elements were reported by various sources. A representative of a UN organisation said there were reports of several girls, some as young as 12, involved in prostitution with Ugandan soldiers. An internal report for a UN organisation based on investigations from field staff states that it is not "unusual to see girls and women sneak into the UPDF base at night, or find UPDF personnel embroiled in brawls over girls or women".

The report cites at least one very serious case of sexual violence by a Uganda soldier against a 16-year-old girl. Abducted at 14 by the LRA near the town of Obo, the young girl returned home at the beginning of 2011 and, in unclear circumstances, was raped by a UPDF soldier at the Ugandan army base in Obo in May 2011. According to the girl, who became pregnant as a result of the rape, the perpetrator eventually left for Uganda, leaving her "in the custody" of another soldier who continued to abuse her at least until August 2011 when she spoke to a UN worker.

The report points out that this case is similar to another incident reported in February 2011 by a Sudanese NGO worker.  In September 2010, two Ugandan soldiers reportedly took a young Congolese girl of 15 named Marie to a clinic in Nzara, South Sudan. The girl had been "rescued" from the LRA by the Ugandan soldiers, who allegedly gang-raped and impregnated her, before taking her to the clinic "nearly dead".

As the army spokesman said, the UPDF does have a reputation of being relatively well behaved, compared to many armies in the world, but as American soldiers have demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, even the most disciplined armies have rogue elements.

Growing apathy

Government officials in the Central Africa Republic have expressed what appears to be a commonly-held belief that the UPDF does not want to end the threat of the LRA, as this would end US aid to it for LRA operations. At both government and local levels, a worrying conviction seems to have been formed, which holds that chasing the LRA is a pretext for Uganda to maintain an invading force in CAR indefinitely. Such views have been fueled by claims that former LRA combatants are quickly integrated into UPDF units once captured, without proper demobilisation and reintegration processes.

In fact, the report claims that at least one third of the total UPDF force chasing LRA groups is composed of former LRA combatants. It is further claimed that former LRA combatants receive no payment for their efforts. The report says the fighters are deceived that their salaries are to be obtained once they are back in Uganda.

Kampala, Bangui ties favourable

At the highest level, however, the relations between Kampala and Bangui remains cordial, says the report - a revelation that appears contradictory. President Bozizé and his son, Jean-Francis Bozizé, the defence minister, have not publicly criticised the Ugandans. A diplomat said that with the exception of the episode in 2010 when President Bozizé asked the Ugandan army to leave the diamond-rich area of Sam Ouandja, both father and son have refrained from publically discussing the Ugandan presence in CAR.

President Bozizé has responded well to Uganda's diplomatic demarches, and has visited Kampala regularly in the last four years, most recently in December 2011 when he attended the meeting of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.

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Comments

 
+22 #1 SWISS 2012-03-02 00:59
UPDF is just unbelievable, in Luwero, Northern Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Somali and now CAR.....my goodness...where do they end....i have never known an army to inflicted so much suffering on humanity like this army has....knowing full well that it is a signatory to many international legal instruments. God help Uganda when Museveni eventually goes.
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+21 #2 huh ! 2012-03-02 01:12
No research needed the UPDF has been raping since Luwero. Ask the NRM historicals.
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+11 #3 Olok S 2012-03-02 01:57
"That report is unfortunate. It's from masqueraders who are trying to earn bread from our blood and sweat. The UPDF is one of the most disciplined forces in Africa and we are pro-people. Anyone can check our record", Kulayigye said.

Kulayigye shows no shame in uttering such a statement. I'm not surprised at all.

I've always believed that the actions of the Ugandan army in Northern Uganda during the LRA insurgency, as well as their conduct in the DRC ('90s-'00s) shows you just what kind of army they truly are.

Most Ugandans would not take these incidents seriously because they were generally not the victims. They choose to ignore these very serious reports, as they may feel they have more important daily mundane matters to deal with at home. They either refuse to believe it really happened, or feel that this matter is for others to deal with.
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+13 #4 Olok S 2012-03-02 01:59
That’s where they are so wrong. Things like this have a way of coming back to haunt you later on. The DRC has not in any way forgotten those crimes, and so they shouldn’t. One day, they will come back to see justice done in the form of compensation.

This report once more shows a dark and sinister side to ‘one of the most disciplined forces in Africa’, as described by their spokesman. This should worry every Ugandan. I always believed the UPDF is nothing more than M7’s private militia.
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+13 #5 Olok S 2012-03-02 01:59
This is the same force whose Chief of Staff threatened to help the police stamp out the A4C demonstrations if asked to do so. This is the force who have openly planted their flag beside the ruling NRM Government, and have made it clear they would never accept any Opposition Government.

Ugandans will need to think again very carefully and quickly about dealing with this regime. It relies on criminality, intimidation, threats, brutality in order to survive…remembe r, just because you’re an NRM supporter and it’s not you they’re after today, does not mean in any way you’re safe. We’ve seen countless examples of this. Sadly, we never seem to learn.
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+14 #6 stevenkasiko 2012-03-02 06:33
Army spokesman Col Felix Kulayigye has specialized in denying this is not the first time to accuse UPDF they killed raped girls in northern uganda
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+13 #7 sn 2012-03-02 07:53
War the weapon for NRM; theft, plunder, looting, sexual abuse are modus operendi all along. The world, especially the USA need to urgently wake up to this reality. The current end result is perpetuity of NRM grip on Uganda and the whole of East and Central Africa. A missing piece of the jig saw puzzle is in Kenya.

The Raila -Museveni alliance is not good for EA or Kenya. It is part of the M7 strategy so Kenyans stand warned! Today’s power base in Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and South Sudan in fulfillment of the grand M7 project.This would deliver EAC presidency to him in 2013!!

He said so in 2006 when asked when he would take pleasure to leave Uganda presidency?
Understand M7 and his Tutsi dynasty adventure now; Luwero, North-East Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and now CAR - the story is same - use rogue elements from Rwanda, South Sudan and Northern Uganda to cause havoc elsewhere and keep him in power for ever.
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-27 #8 kamparaaaaa 2012-03-02 12:13
The west/europeans/whites and other non-africans have looted and plundered africa especially this part of africa for centuries. I therefore see no problem if other africans exploit and benefit from these african resources. unless you want the chinese, the indians and the arabs who are itching to come in and start off from where the whites left off.

You also got to admit that for small land-locked country, our uganda does punch above our wheight. don't apologize for this but be proud of uganda extending our influence.its wat even tiny european countries done for centuries to be great . It might be wrong in the eyes of God but unfortunately this world is not fair and you have got to be bold and go out there and fight these wars for the nation to survive and progress. Men like m7 come arround once in a lifetime and despite his faults uganda shd use this man's gifts for our future and grandchildrens future.
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+7 #9 LRA Analyst 2012-03-02 12:28
Did anyone find the actual report that's cited in the article? Please post link here....
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+21 #10 Malambala Enos 2012-03-02 13:17
Kamparaaaaa your missing the point. Those who plunder do it for personal wealth accumulation. That money does not end up in Uganda coffers, but personal overseas accounts.

I suspect your one of the plunderers that is why you don't care. Uganda was fined $10bn for resources plundered in DRC by a few elements that ended up in their personal accounts. We paying money that went to personal accounts and that is what pains us.

With this mentality I think you wouldn't care if your brother raped your daughter since it is family matter. Who told you that it is right for the UPDF to rape and plunder because whites did it? Two wrongs don't make it right.
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+5 #11 Olok S 2012-03-02 15:04
MALAMBALA Enos, I couldn't agree with you more. We just never seem to learn anything from our past.
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+8 #12 Betty Long Cap 2012-03-03 02:56
Quoting kamparaaaaa:
I therefore see no problem if other africans exploit and benefit from these african resources.


That mindset is exactly why African countries are exploited. Black exploitation is condoned by the kamparaaaaas of the continent with what I guess to be fond hopes benefits trickle down to them.

kamparaaaaa, you are asking for Bastille Day. If sounder minds do not prevail, Africa will have a blood bath. God forbid.
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+7 #13 Ann Garrison 2012-03-03 21:02
I can't find the original Social Science Research Council report, "The Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic," online. Could you, the author, share a link to that?

I find this story credible, given all the other reports I've read about the UPDF and the region, but I'd like to read the source report.
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-9 #14 Carol Oben 2012-03-03 22:34
Absolutely disgusting. There is definitely something wrong with black man's mind- the way we treat each other!!!!!!
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+1 #15 Mzee Kambeja 2012-03-04 02:01
UPDF are professional rapists.murderers.looters they do rape even corpses.CAR should get rid of them.Is Kony hiding in the Diamonds or logs? Shame on you UPDF and NRM.Col. Felix you call your army disciplined shame on you, why were you UPDF raping even men in Northern Uganda?
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+13 #16 Richard 2012-03-04 12:19
"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist."
By Pastor Niemoller, citizen of Nazi Germany.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
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-15 #17 kintu christopher 2012-03-04 23:02
Look here, i was in southern sudan and went as far as obo in car and the updf was so displined. The population in the area in fact prefered it more than their own army. Lets take an example of the armys role in ug.

Those of us who are 40 and above know of how past armies have behaved towards the poppulation, but the updf has been different in that nobody is afraid anylonger of the army. So please western agencies, stop spoiling the good image of our bloved army, do ather things like supporting lesbians and homos, cause that is what u do best.
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