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UN report could alter fate of African Union mission to Somalia

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M23 fighters in Bunagana, eastern DRC. Uganda’s withdrawal of its troops in Somalia would be detrimental. Picture: AFP

M23 fighters in Bunagana, eastern DRC. Uganda’s withdrawal of its troops in Somalia would be detrimental. Picture: AFP 

By A JOINT REPORT, The EastAfrican

Posted  Saturday, November 10  2012 at  14:19

In Summary

  • Rwanda is hoping the Security Council will be on its side when the final report on the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), prepared by the Group of Experts, is presented.
  • Uganda issued an ultimatum requiring the UN to clear its name or the country would recall its forces from all peacekeeping operations in Africa, which include the Amisom mission in Somalia.
  • Government officials in Kampala said they expected the Council, which convenes this week, to reject the report. They allude to the tacit backing of Russia, China and the United States of America while the United Kingdom is yet to make its position known.
  • According to Ugandan academics, however, it is unlikely that the UN will allow the country to act on its threats, while even Uganda may not be as eager to enforce them.
  • Rwanda’s alleged involvement in the DRC conflict led several donors to cancel budgetary support aid to President Kagame’s administration,
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The future of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) hinges on the position the United Nations Security Council adopts next week on a report by a UN expert group that accused Rwanda and Uganda of military involvement with the M23 rebel movement.

The report, leaked to the media a month ago, drew angry reactions from Kampala and Kigali. Uganda issued an ultimatum requiring the UN to clear its name or the country would recall its forces from all peacekeeping operations in Africa, which include the Amisom mission in Somalia.

Rwanda is hoping the Security Council will be on its side when the final report on the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), prepared by the Group of Experts, is presented.

Rwanda, which was last month elected to the Security Council, termed the report unacceptable. “It is a product of a certain way of thinking by people who have certain intentions. Who want this region to be a certain way. The report came to fit some pre-conceived notions and ascertain intentions of some members of the international community,” Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told TheEastAfrican in an interview.

“Why should we [Uganda] pay the price of security in the region?” Asked Asuman Kiyingi Uganda’s Minister for Regional Affairs.

“President Yoweri Museveni does not sleep because of the problems in the region and Ban Ki Moon and President Joseph Kabila are always on the phone asking him to use his contacts to calm the situation every time there is trouble in Congo, Sudan or Somalia,” said Mr Kiyingi.

Mr Kiyingi later explained that until the UN Security Council adopts a position on the offensive report, the question of Uganda pulling its troops out of Amisom remains a hypothetical one.

“If they insist on their report, then we shall give a timeline for our withdrawal,” Mr Kiyingi said, adding that the region was solidly behind Uganda in its standoff with the UN.

“Rwanda understands and appreciates the basis on which Uganda is taking certain positions on this report. We hope this report will be seen for what it is — a compilation of elements that have nothing to do with the reality, hopefully good sense will prevail,” said Ms Mwishikiwabo.

Reject report

Government officials in Kampala said they expected the Council, which convenes this week, to reject the report. They allude to the tacit backing of Russia, China and the United States of America while the United Kingdom is yet to make its position known.

While many commentators have described Uganda’s threats as premature and an attempt to blackmail the international community, Mr Kiyingi said there was no other way of dealing with the issue.

Harold Acemah, a retired career diplomat who once served in Uganda’s foreign service, said that besides the indelicate language Ugandan officials have used during their rebuttals “their reaction was premature because the final report could be different. But, even if it is not, reactions should only have been to a report that has been officially released. The threats are an overreaction and could be counterproductive.”

“We are adopting this extreme position out of the conviction that we are innocent and because without informing us, the President of the UN Security Council went ahead and issued a statement announcing their intention to impose sanctions against Uganda and Rwanda,” said Mr Kiyingi, describing the report by the UN group of experts as an act of provocation.

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