BIG STORY: Museveni, DRC, Congo, Togo Presidents Discuss Security, Coups In Africa

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Saturday joined his counterparts from Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazaville, and Togo to discuss among others coups and security in Africa.

The Standard have learnt that Museveni met President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a mini-summit on peace and security in the region, three days after the International Court Of Justice ruled against the East African nation in a reparation case.

Congo Brazzaville President Dennis Sassou Nguesso hosted the meeting, that indicates Kampala and Kinshasa are moving forward on joint security measures, despite the ICJ ruling requiring Uganda to pays sh1 trillion in reparations.

Saturday’s meeting in Oyo Town, was also attended by President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo.

Ugandan troops are currently in eastern DRC in a joint effort to eradicate rebels of the ADF from the region.

The meeting comes days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ordered Uganda to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo $325 million (Sh1 trillion) in reparation for the effects of a 1998-2003 war.

Uganda has rejected findings of wrongdoing by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) in DRC, and said it considers yesterday’s judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “unfair and wrong.”

In a statement released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, government said the decision by the ICJ is a good example of outsiders interfering in African affairs.

“In Uganda’s view, the court’s judgment on reparation does not contribute to peace and security, or the spirit of cooperation between the two countries and in the wider Great Lakes Region. Nor does it inspire confidence in the court as the fair and credible arbiter of international disputes that the framers of the UN Charter intended it to be,”  reads the statement in part.

The judgment was read by the court’s president, Justice Joan E Donoghue.

“The court notes that the reparation awarded to the DRC for damage to persons and to property reflects the harm suffered by individuals and communities as a result of Uganda’s breach of its international obligations,” reads the judgment in part.

The panel of judges includes Ugandan, Julia Sebutinde.

The DRC Government dragged Uganda to the International Court in 1999 and in 2005 the court ruled that Uganda had to pay compensation for invading Congo. The court asked the two neighboring countries to settle compensation out of court but negotiations failed hence returning the case to the court to determine the reparations.

The Congo demanded 11 billion dollars in damages from a war that left hundreds of thousands of her people dead and millions displaced.

Uganda can pay the amount in installments of 65 million dollars annually.

In 1998, a war erupted in DRC with Uganda and other neighbors like Rwanda and Burundi participating directly and indirectly by supporting several groups fighting then-president Joseph Kabila.

During the war, Uganda was accused of committing internationally wrongful acts against the people of Congo. Consequently, in a 2005 judgment, the court found Uganda liable for committing internationally wrongful acts which resulted in injury to the DRC and to persons on its territory.

The acts included illegal use of force, violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military intervention, occupation of Ituri, violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law, looting, plunder, and exploitation of the DRC’s natural resources.

Court then ordered Uganda to pay reparation to Congo but asked two countries to negotiate the amount. General international law provides that a State which bears responsibility for an internationally wrongful act is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by that act. Negotiations failed and the matter was returned to the ICJ for determination.

DRC made four major claims for compensation with the first one being damage to a person. This claim consisted of a loss of life put at a cost of 4,045, 646,000 dollars, injuries to persons was at 54, 464,000 dollars, 33,458,000 dollars for rape and sexual violence, 30 million US Dollars for recruitment of child soldiers and 186, 853,800 US Dollars for the displacement of population. The second major claim was damage to property which was costed at 239,971,970 US Dollars, damage related to natural resources at 1,043,563,809, and macroeconomics damage was the highest claim at 4,714,000,775 US Dollars.

Upon assessment, the court awarded compensation of 325 million US Dollars which 225 million US Dollars for damage to persons, 40 million US Dollars for damage to property, and 60 million US Dollars for damage related to natural resources.

Head of the delegation of Uganda in The Hague on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Jackson Karugaba Kafuuzi. PHOTO UN/ICJ

The total sum is to be paid in annual installments of 65 million US Dollars due on 1 September of each year, from 2022 to 2026. The Court ruled that, should payment be delayed, post-judgment interest at an annual rate of 6 percent on each installment will accrue on any overdue amount from the day which follows the day on which the installment was due.

Although Court ruled that Uganda committed internationally wrongful acts and the injury suffered by the DRC occurred, it disagrees with the assessment of the various forms of damage and the amounts of compensation owed.

DRC had put all the blame on Uganda for the atrocities committed by Ugandan forces but also groups like the Congo Liberation Movement (MLC) and its armed wing, the Congo Liberation Army (ALC). But in their decision, the court exonerated Uganda on paying reparation in some areas where Ugandan forces were not directly involved. Uganda was largely blamed for its own participation through extorting, looting natural resources, plunder, and recruitment of child soldiers among others.

An Agent of the DRC told the court that the funds shall be fairly and effectively distributed to victims of harm, under the supervision of organs whose members include representatives of victims and civil society and whose operation is supported by international experts

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