Thursday, March 04, 2004

Uganda: Museveni on the situation in northern Uganda

Yesteday, President Yoweri Museveni gave a long press conference to address the Lira massacre.

Museveni said donors are to blame for the war against the LRA taking so long...
"These donors were interfering in our budgeting and are responsible along with Sudan for this war taking so long. They were de facto allies," he told a news conference late on Wednesday.

... In the late 1990s donors put a ceiling on Uganda's defence spending when the east African country invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo. But last year donors let Uganda increase its defence spending to help boost the war on the LRA.

... "When they eventually allowed us to spend more than 1.9 percent of GDP (on defence), you can see the results [823 rebels killed since June 2003] if they can allow us to commit adequate resources to defence," Museveni said.
A week ago, Parliament voted to declare the north a disaster area but its vote is not binding on the government. At yesterday's press conference, Museveni said that he would not make any such declaration and that much of the north is doing better than is being portrayed. He explained the Lira massacre as follows ...
He said the massacre was due to the laxity of the army and the civilians in the area.

"They should not have allowed the camp to develop around a detachment that was dedicated to another purpose.

"The real problem, however, was that the Amukas [local militia] of Barlonyo had no communication with the larger forces of the UPDF in the area. If only they had informed the Division commander in time, what eventually became a disaster would have been an opportunity to massacre the terrorists," said the President.

He said the string of victories of the UPDF was marred by the carelessness of the commander at Barlonyo.
When Museveni visited Lira after the massacre, he apologized to the people on behalf of the army ... and transferred the local army commander to headquarters for further training.

LRA = Lord's Resistance Army

Note ... the following is from the New Vision article ... compare it to the statement quoted first.
Museveni attacked the donors, saying they were interfering with the budgeting process and were responsible for the mess in the north because they were allies of Sudan.
Related earlier post ... here.