Uganda Blackmails UN On Somalia -- Fearing Sanctions Over Congo

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Uganda is blackmailing the UN by saying: Yes, we may be involved in Congo atrocities but the U.S. needs our troops in Somalia. So forget about the massacres and theft we've allegedly committed in the Congo.

[Publisher's Commentary]

Protecting Museveni and Kagame or Justice for Congolese?

As pressure builds for sanctions against Uganda and Rwanda after yet another United Nations report linked their armies to atrocities in Congo both countries have mounted aggressive propaganda campaigns to refute the findings while also manufacturing diversionary "news" or "spin."
In June a UN report  by a Group of Experts said Uganda and Rwanda were supporting M23, a vicious militia allied to Bosco Ntaganda, a war criminal wanted at the Hague. The UN report found that M23's fighters included men trained and armed in Rwanda and ferried across the border to cause mayhem by the Paul Kagame regime. Washington subsequently cut some funding to Rwanda, which until then had enjoyed a blank-check from the U.S.
There's nothing new about support for vicious militias in Congo by Uganda and Rwanda.
In 2010 a United Nations "Mapping Report" found that Rwanda's army had committed revenge massacres of Hutu civilian refugees, including women and children. Atrocities by Uganda's army and it's allied Congo militias were also well documented --massacres of civilians, mass rapes of both women and men, and theft of Congo's resources.

Congo referred the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Uganda liable in 2005 and granted Congo $10 billion in compensation. Uganda has refused to make any payment so far. On June 8, 2006 The Wall Street Journal  reported that when the International Criminal Court started investigating Uganda's role in the Congo crimes, the army's commander in chief Gen. Yoweri Museveni, the president, contacted then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and urged him to block the probe. This year Thomas Lubanga, a Uganda-financed and trained Congo war criminal was convicted by the ICC.

Uganda and Rwanda don't promote massacres in the Congo blindly. There is financial logic behind the bloody mayhem. By making Congo ungovernable, Ugandan and Rwandan troops are free to facilitate theft of Congolese resources for the ruling political and military elite in each country in conjunction with their Western corporate partners.

Both Uganda and Rwanda had become accustomed to acting with impunity -- with a wink from the West. That's why despite the numerous past UN reports linking the two countries to Congo crimes, a finding of liability against Uganda by the ICJ, and an ICC investigation that has thus far been blocked to protect Uganda, both countries continued their rogue meddling in Congo's affairs.

Moreover, Uganda imagined it enjoyed an even larger blank-check than Rwanda's so long as it still maintains 10,000 troops in Somalia, encouraged by Washington, which fears the war-torn country will become a haven for al-Qaeda and its allied militias.

Uganda had turned Congo into its hunting ground -- even elephants were not spared and a recent New York Times front-page story documented how Uganda's military shot them for their prized tusks, from helicopters.

So it must have come as a great shock for both Gen. Museveni and Gen. Kagame when, following the June UN report the United States  cut some aid to Rwanda and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Kampala and urged Gen. Museveni to consider stepping down before his current term expires.

In September during the United Nations General Assembly deliberations in New York there was a special session focusing on Congo and the country's president Joseph Kabila demanded Security Council action against Rwanda. When confronted in person with the UN's findings by Security Council member countries Rwanda's Gen. Kagame stormed out of the meeting. Rwanda also wondered why it was singled out when Uganda stands similarly accused.

As M23's mayhem continues, with thousands killed -- adding to the already estimated millions of Congolese deaths since Uganda and Rwanda first invaded in 1996-- Gen. Museveni and Gen. Kagame are desperate to create space from Ntaganda's army.

Rwanda has fewer cards to play -- the regime announced the prison term for top opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza after a kangaroo court trial, perhaps hoping that a subsequent presidential would allow for Gen. Kagame to be credited with magnanimity.
Uganda feels it has an ace -- the Somalia card.

(Uganda also needs any diversion from a fresh domestic crisis. A UK newspaper reported that $16 million in foreign aid for reconstruction in war-devastated northern part of the country was "funnelled into private bank accounts of workers" in prime minister Amama Mbabazi's office. In 2010 Mbabazi was suspected of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from oil companies, leading the American ambassador to propose that he be barred  from visiting the U.S.)

It's as cynical as they come. Uganda is blackmailing the UN by saying: Yes, we may be involved in Congo atrocities but the U.S. needs our troops in Somalia. So forget about the massacres and theft we've allegedly committed in the Congo.
The blackmail was delivered to UN headquarters this week by Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, its former ambassador to the UN and now Minister of Information and Communications Technology. Here's how the press release issued by the regime reads in part: "The Government informed that Uganda’s withdrawal from regional peace efforts, including Somalia, CAR, etc. would become inevitable unless the UN corrects the false accusations made against Uganda, by bringing out the truth about Uganda’s role in the current regional efforts."

In other words Kampala wants the United Nation's report to be altered and to exonerate Uganda -- or else. Will the audacious gamble work or will the international community instead stand up for Congolese victims of Uganda's and Rwanda's aggression?

In 2006 Gen. Museveni asked the UN to block a probe by the ICC -- something must have happened on that occasion since he has yet to be indicted for the crimes of which the ICJ has already found Uganda liable.

Protecting Museveni and Kagame or justice for Congo?
Anything on this earth is possible.

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