Conflicts in Uganda Part IV

By | July 13, 2021

Regional hunt for Kony

However, the armed struggle against the LRA was not over. In fact, a number of Ugandan soldiers remained in the Congo, continuing to search for the scattered rebels. Many were also sent to southern Sudan and CAR, when groups of LRA rebels in 2009 went both east and north.

However, fighting with the Allied troops has diminished in recent years. This is most likely due not only to the weakening of the LRA, but also to a number of problems with government troops.

Firstly, they have had increasing logistical problems as the LRA spreads over an ever larger territory. Cooperation between allied governments is also problematic. Ugandan troops are no longer allowed access to Congo and CAR has also introduced restrictions on where Ugandan troops can operate in the country.

Joint strength gets into trouble

To facilitate the regional struggle, a joint anti-LRA force has been formed by the African Union. However, the civil war that broke out in CAR in December 2012 meant that LRAs are no longer a priority. The same applies to South Sudan, which is struggling with major internal strife. Congo has also seen other, more significant threats and has only contributed a few troops to the hunt for the LRA.

However, there are a few glimmers of light, from the perspective of the Allies. In late 2011, the United States decided to send 100 soldiers to support the fight against the LRA. These have since collaborated with the national armies. Among other things, they help with intelligence activities and training, and have also helped to design joint communication centers. However, it remains difficult to achieve effective cooperation between the contributing countries.

The American troops are still in the region. In October 2015, President Obama extended their mission for another year. However, they have failed to persuade the Congolese government to allow the Ugandan army to enter its territory, which continues to hamper the efforts to track down the rebels.

Fewer attacks on civilians

At the same time as the regional forces are fighting to knock out the LRA, the rebels have kept an ever lower profile. They are most likely more weakened than they have ever been before. However, the reduction in the number of fatal attacks is also linked to a deliberate change in strategy. Defectors have testified that Kony has given orders not to carry out large-scale massacres, but to focus on looting food for survival.

Connoisseurs seem to agree that this strategy is an attempt to stay under the radar and not attract too much international attention. The goal is to keep the group together and simply wait for the day when the United States withdraws its troops and the regional force is disbanded.

Dominic Ongwen in The Hague

In addition to military success, many advances against the LRA also measure the number of defectors, that is, how many manage to escape the rebels and return to civilian life. An intensive campaign is being waged by Allied troops to attract rebels.

The number of defectors has increased steadily in recent years and in January 2015 the greatest success was achieved so far. Dominic Ongwen, one of the top leaders in the LRA, was then captured by Seleka rebels in the CAR, as he was on his way to surrender to the American troops.

As Ongwen is one of the five LRA leaders prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, he was quickly sent to The Hague. There he is now charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. In May 2016, the court informed that the trial against Ongwens will begin in December and that 2026 victims have been granted permission to participate.

Sweden and Uganda

Sweden has good relations with Uganda. Trade exchange is modest today, but business and trade relations between Sweden and Uganda have development potential and Uganda is emerging as an attractive market for foreign commercial players. Ericsson is the largest Swedish company in the country. Twelve Swedish universities collaborate with universities in Uganda, which has contributed to strengthening higher education and research in the country. Several Swedish authorities and municipalities have collaborations with Ugandan counterparts.

Since the end of the 1980’s, Uganda has been a partner country for Swedish development assistance. In July 2014, a new performance strategy for Sweden’s international aid to Uganda was adopted, which applies to 2014-2018. The activities of the strategy aim to help strengthen respect for human rights in Uganda, increase livelihoods and contribute to improved health and freedom from violence for the Ugandan people. By working broadly and supporting various change actors, there is an opportunity to meet the most central development challenges in Uganda.

Sweden has an embassy in Kampala with delegates from both the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Sida.

Sweden and Uganda