The President of the Republic of Uganda H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has advised that the government of Uganda needs to fill some gaps in intelligence collection and once that is done, it will be the end of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorist group both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
“The problem of ADF has been military only for the period between 1996 and 2007 when they were defeated. After that, for a long time, despite being given free control of big portions of Eastern Congo, the ADF problem remained degraded to an intelligence and diplomatic problem. Intelligence problem, because those who can defeat them like UPDF, need to know where they are in Congo and what they are planning,” President Museveni said.
Gen. Museveni made the remarks today during his State of the Nation Address on security matters held at Nakasero State Lodge.
President Museveni explained that the ADF managed to manifest in their early years because the Congolese Government of former President H.E Kabila, supported by some regional and international actors, gave them free tenancy in North Kivu and Ituri where they mined gold, sold timber, harvested people’s Cocoa, collected taxes and extorted money from people. According to the President, this modestly helped the group to grow since they had the resources.
“They also developed linkages with other terrorists like al-Qaeda. By the time “Operation Shujaa” started, ADF had about 2000 fighters. This was on the 30th of November, 2021. They had started to, again, pose a military problem to the Congo Army by attacking some detachments and even attacking the detachments of the UN, like when they attacked a Tanzanian detachment on 7th December 2017,” the President said.
“All this was on account of the diplomatic problem of the Congo Government not allowing us to assist them with the ADF when neither they nor the UN has the capacity,” he added.
President Museveni however commended the current President of DRC H.E Felix Tshisekedi for allowing UPDF to carry out operations against the ADF hiding in Eastern Congo.
“Fortunately, with the coming of H.E Felix Tshisekedi to power, he was more cooperative. He allowed us, from the 31st of November, 2021, to kuhuura (thresh) ADF. It had good results because the ADF had foolishly gathered in big camps, confident that they were invulnerable and no force could reach them,” he stressed.
“After repeated kuhuura, the ADF has done two things: shifted beyond the Beni-Eringeti- Komanda-Bunya Road and broken into small groups that they hope are not easy to see and some individuals hiding in the Trading Centres. They also entertain shallow ideas like: “Let us send small groups inside Uganda to kill people so that these ‘Bakafiiri’ relax their pressure on us in Congo”. Unfortunately for the ADF, the Bakafiiri, the Indigenous People of Uganda regardless of their religions, have enough troops to hunt ADF up to Mbandaka if the Congo Government allows us and also guard the rear in Uganda.”
The President also boasted that due to a strong army and reasonably strong intelligence, Uganda has managed to degrade the ADF from a military force to a mere band of terrorists only looking for soft targets (unarmed people) to kill.
“Why not attack a detachment of the Army? Why not attack a police station? Why not ambush troops on the move if you are a fighter? They no longer have the capacity to do that. Why? We degraded them. We need to, therefore, fill some gaps in intelligence collection and that will be the end of ADF both in Congo and Uganda,” President Museveni said.
The President further highlighted how the government has been able to defeat the ADF over the years.
“The last desperate effort was in 2007 when 100 of them entered Uganda from Congo and 87 of them were killed by the Commandos in Semuliki National Park. They had come to sabotage the Commonwealth meeting of that year by committing terrorist atrocities that would scare delegates from coming. Since that time, they could no longer send groups to Uganda. They now tried to concentrate on individuals that would plant bombs. They planted a total of 34 bombs. We, however, eliminated all those bombing efforts by arresting or killing all those involved within Uganda,” he reminisced.
“The ADF now remained in Congo. This is where the anti-NRM foreign agents based in the Monitor paper, become a comic group. Unfortunately, when an incident like the one of Nyabugaando Secondary School (Kasese) occurs, they come up: “security in Uganda has collapsed”, etc. Is their plan to shift Uganda out of the Great Lakes region and put it where in the World?”
Gen Museveni also ruled out the suggestion of closing the DRC border with Uganda to bar the terrorists from accessing the East African country, assuring that NRM-UPDF will always defeat any anti-Uganda terrorist group given the right conditions.
“Should we and can we close the border with Congo like the Israelis built a wall between Israel and Palestine? Who would lose most, apart from the issue of the cost of the wall? Uganda earns USD 606.32 million per year by exporting to Congo. All this would be lost. Besides, we would harm and annoy our people and the Congolese people that live on the borders. These are the same people: Bakoonjo – Banaande; Banyoro-Batooro-Batuku-Bahema-Banyambooga; Alurs; Lugbara; Lendu; Kakwa; the Kinyarwanda speakers; etc,” he said.
During the same National Address, the President gave an update on the recent ADF attack on Nyabugaando Secondary School in Kasese that left 37 students killed.
“ADF, attacking Nyabugaando School children, does not show ADF getting stronger. It shows that the ADF was defeated long ago. By the time they committed the atrocities of Kiburara Seminary and Kichwaamba Technical School (on 16th August 1997 and 8th June 1998 respectively), they were already defeated. It meant, then and it means now, that they could not attack anybody armed with a gun. The only one they can attack is the unarmed one. That is weakness, not strength,” President Museveni emphasized.
Gen. Museveni also explained that the ADF attacks like that one of Nyabugaando are on account of the relaxation in the area by the security forces because the area had been peaceful for a long time.
“As I wrote in my earlier piece, they had tried to do something similar, North of the Rwenzori Mountain, in Ntoroko, on the 13th of December, 2022. 51 of them entered Uganda in the area of Rwebisengo to do exactly what they did at Nyabugaando. However, the Wanaichi saw them, and quickly informed the Army, the Army responded quickly and 26 were killed, 25 were captured, 37 guns plus 7 IEDs were captured.”
“Nevertheless, the Nyabugaando terrorists have been followed and now, 3 of them have been killed, 4 guns have been captured.”
In another way of fighting insecurity in the country, the President revealed that in his Executive Order No.3 of 2023 and in an earlier directive of 19th May 2023, he ordered the putting in place of police units of 18 persons per Sub–county, with some motorcycle to help them respond to calls of distress anywhere in the Sub–County.
“I thought of the No. of 18, because I wanted 12 to be regular armed police and, then, the other 6 would provide the CID, etc. The 12, could be organized into squads of 4 each. One of these squads is to be on standby, ready to move immediately to the area of need. They should be fully dressed, guns in hand, motorcycles fueled, ready to move any moment,” he said.
“With the implementation of the Executive Order, even in peacetime, there will be a group ready to move to answer a call of distress. If there is a terrorist threat in the area, we up-grade the situation by recruiting LDUs per parish. Those terrorists of Nyabugaando would never have gone back. It was just a gap that is closable.”
President Museveni further advised that when there is a threat of terrorism or even ordinary crime, all the residents in the sub-county should have a toll-free sub-county Police telephone number, which people under attack should ring.
” ADF is being wiped out. On the side of the Uganda population, all of us need to be involved in wealth creation through PDM, the Emyooga, the commercialization of Agriculture, the industrialization, so that our children and grandchildren, do not remain available for those manipulators to misuse by being recruited into ADF and other shallow groups,” President Museveni expounded.
To ensure total security in the continent of Africa where colonialism ensured excessive political balkanization, President Museveni also urged that other peace-loving countries should copy leaf from the NRM government by ensuring strong armies that can fight any type of war, strong intelligence service that uses both human and technical means to detect and locate the enemies, maximum political cohesion and Pan-African efforts to work with sister African countries on matters of common interest such as trade and security.
“This is how the NRM has turned Uganda into an Island of peace in the region where Uganda is not generating refugees and is, instead, receiving the highest number of refugees in Africa and No.3 in the whole World. There are now 1.53 million refugees in Uganda.”