Conflicts in Uganda Part I

By | July 10, 2021

Uganda’s history has been marred by armed conflict. Even after the current president Yoweri Museveni took power in 1986, new rebel groups continued to emerge and take up the fight against the government. The main survivors today are the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), both of which have become regional threats.

After many years of civil war, the rebel group National Resistance Army (NRA) succeeded in taking power in Uganda in 1986. The NRA was led by Yoweri Museveni, who is still president.

During the 1990’s, fighting broke out in many parts of the country. In addition to the internal causes of these conflicts, the development was also greatly affected by hostile regimes in the neighboring countries of Zaire / Congo and Sudan.

In recent years, the rebel groups LRA and ADF have been the most prominent. These have both made themselves known as very brutal and the civilian population has been hit hard.

After a long negotiation process between the LRA and the government failed in 2008, the Ugandan government chose to try again to get a military solution to the conflict. This has not yet succeeded. The rebels have split into smaller groups and spread in the jungles of northeastern Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan. It has proved difficult for the government army and its allies to track them down.

In the early 2000’s, the ADF was expelled from Uganda and has since had its camps in eastern Congo. Uganda’s army is not allowed to enter Congolese soil, so at present it is the Congolese army that has taken up the fight against the ADF.

In 2014, the army and Monusco, the UN force in the country, launched an offensive against the ADF. For a long time it looked as if they had managed to crush the group. In October, however, the ADF launched a new wave of attacks on civilians. These are still continuing despite the launch of a new offensive against the rebels in May 2016.

During the first half of 2015, both the LRA and the ADF suffered major setbacks. One of the LRA’s top leaders left and is now in The Hague to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and war crimes. ADF’s top leader Jamil Mukulu was arrested in Tanzania in April and has been handed over to Uganda. He is accused of mass murder and crimes against humanity. It is still unclear how these events will affect the two groups.

Uganda History

Uganda’s history has been marred by armed conflict. Even after the current president Yowero Museveni took power in 1986, new rebel groups continued to emerge and take up the fight against the government. The main survivors today are the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), both of which have become regional threats.

Background

Ever since independence from Britain in 1962, Uganda’s history has been marked by violent conflict. The country’s population consists of different ethnic and religious groups and the differences that exist between them have been exploited by politicians to gain power.

A common pattern has been that ethnic or regionally based regimes have discriminated against and harassed other groups. This has led to the other groups organizing themselves, forming armed movements and using force to overthrow the regime. When a group has succeeded in seizing power, the new regime has in turn turned to other ethnic groups, mainly those who constituted the popular support for the deposed government. This pattern has been repeated time and time again.

Museveni takes power

The government currently in power in Uganda is led by President Yoweri Museveni. He came to power in 1986, after several years of armed struggle. Museveni comes from southwestern Uganda and the unrest spread to the north and east, where previous rulers came from. The soldiers who had belonged to the previous regime fled north and some of them took up arms.

In mid-1986, the new government army began operations in northern Uganda, under the pretext that they would crush an incipient uprising. The operation led to serious violations by the civilian population. Many joined the former soldiers who had crossed the border into southern Sudan in an attempt to organize against Museveni. This was the prelude to the conflict that is still going on today.

Conflicts in Uganda