President Museveni has said that the recent attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels on a school in Kasese was a result of flaws in UPDF intelligence, but that the rebel unit is no longer a threat to the country’s security.
The President said that the ADF rebels have now broken into very small groups, making it difficult for security forces to detect them. He called for alertness and strengthening of intelligence gathering in order to deal with the rebels.
Museveni said that the ADF attack on the school was a sign of weakness, not strength. He said that the rebels are now unable to operate in large groups and that the only way they can attack is as individuals.
The President said that the ADF is no longer a military problem, but an intelligence and diplomatic problem. He called for regional diplomacy to deal with the rebels, who are now operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Museveni said that through intelligence, the government needs to know where the rebels are in the DRC and their plans. He said that the government will continue to attack the rebels, but that the focus will now be on intelligence and diplomacy.
In summary, the President said that the ADF rebels are no longer a military threat, but an intelligence and diplomatic problem. He called for alertness and strengthening of intelligence gathering, as well as regional diplomacy to deal with the rebels.
Below is Museveni’s Full Statement in Thursday’s Presidential Address
On June 16, 2023, a small group of about 10 or fewer people attacked Nyabugaando Secondary School, a private school near the Lubiriha River. The names of the places are the Kikoonjo version of the bigger Runyakitara language (Runyankore, Rukiga, Lunyaambo, Runyoro, Lutooro, Rujiinja, Ruhaya, Luluuri, etc.). Nyabugaando refers to the thorny, nitrogen-fixing plants known as obugaando (Acacia hohii).
That is why you hear, throughout the Great Lakes area, place names like Rugaando in Rwampaara; Kigaando in Butambala, Mpigi; Kigaando in Karagwe, Tanzania; etc. Lubiriha would be Rubira, with the voice going down over the “i”, meaning bubbling or boiling from the verb Kubira (to reach the boiling point for water).
At this Nyabugaando School, a small group of terrorists, using machetes, clubs, and fire, killed 37 children. This was most tragic and, as usual, deplorable and condemnable. Why? It is because you cannot be called a fighter for any good cause when you attack unarmed people.
Moreover, in this case, children, you are criminals, terrorists, and never to be called fighters. If you want to be a fighter, you attack a barracks, a Police post, or ambush troops or security personnel on the move. In that case, you are still illegal; you are committing treason, but you are not a war criminal.
ADF attacking Nyabugaando School children does not show ADF getting stronger. It actually shows that the ADF was defeated long ago. By the time they committed the atrocities at Kiburara Seminary and Kichwaamba Technical School (on August 16, 1997, and June 8, 1998, respectively), they were already defeated. It meant, then and 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.
When the ADF launched their first attack on Mpondwe on the 13th of November, 1996, fully supported and armed with guns by Mobutu and Bashir, 1200 of them, their aim was to capture Mpondwe, which they did for a few days; proceed and capture Kasese Airstrip, so that Bashir lands weapons for them and, then, in coordination with Kony in the North, would proceed to Kampala and overthrow the NRM Government.
The attack on Mpondwe was to tackle us from the rear and give us a final blow. What happened? The ADF was blocked by the small forces near Mpondwe and contained there. After a few days, a massive counterattack was launched by the UPDF. 400 ADFs were killed, and the whole group was dispersed. They now shifted to, mainly, rural terrorism, targeting unarmed civilians again. I can only remember a few cases where they attacked detachments of the UPDF. We had to, therefore, build the anti-terrorism capacity. This meant four targets: stop them from capturing power; stop them from controlling any part of Uganda; stop them from interfering with human settlements in the rural areas and the economic activities of the people (in other words, enable the IDPs to go back to their homes); and stop them from committing atrocities in Uganda like the one of Nyabugaando.
By 2007, all four had been achieved. The last desperate effort was in 2007, when 100 of them entered Uganda from the Congo and 87 of them were killed by the Commandoes in Semuliki National Park. They had come to sabotage the Common Wealth Meeting of that year by committing terrorist atrocities that would scare delegates from coming.
Since that time, they could no longer send groups into Uganda. They now tried to concentrate on individuals who 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.
The ADF now remains in Congo. This is where the anti-NRM foreign agents based in the Monitor paper become a comic group. When an incident like the one in Nyabugaando, unfortunately, occurs, people say, “Security in Uganda has collapsed”, etc. Is it their plan to shift Uganda out of the Great Lakes region and put it elsewhere in the World?
We could not shift Uganda, and we fortified ourselves here by having a strong Army and intelligence service. The question is: “How do you ensure total security on the continent of Africa, where colonialism ensured excessive political balkanization?” If you have the right ideological orientation, you do what the NRM has done in Uganda by ensuring the following:
(i) A strong Army that can fight any type of war;
(ii). A strong intelligence service that uses both
human and technical means to detect and locate the enemies within the borders of Uganda and, in some cases, outside Uganda;
(iii). Maximum political cohesion within the Country
based on the broad-based legitimate interests of the people; and
(iv). Pan-African efforts to work with sister African
Countries on matters of common interest such as trade, etc., including security.
This is how the NRM has turned Uganda into an Island of peace in the region, where Uganda is not generating refugees but 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.
By relying on a strong Army, a reasonably strong intelligence service, and the maximum political cohesion possible, the NRM has been able to keep the ADF away from Uganda ever since their defeat in Semuliki Valley in 2007. However, the ADF was there in the Congo. Although their growth is not dramatic, the Congo Government of H.E. Kabila, supported by some regional and international actors, gave them free tenancy in North Kivu and Ituri. They were mining gold, selling timber, harvesting people’s Cocoa, collecting taxes, extorting money from people, etc. They were modestly growing and had money. They also developed links with other terrorists, like al-Quida.
However, all this does not mean much for the NRM-UPDF. We will always defeat any anti-Uganda terrorist group given the right conditions. In spite of the modest growth and the free territory the Kabila Government gave them, they could not enter Uganda in force (section, platoon, company, etc.) at all and could infiltrate individuals with a lot of difficulty.
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 cost for 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-BBanaande; Banyoro-Batooro-Batuku-Bahema-Banyambooga; Alurs; Lugbara; Lendu; Kakwa; the Kinyarwanda speakers; etc.
Recently, at Kyankwanzi, I met a delegation of Congolese MPs. To solve the problem of translation since I did not have a French speaker on my side, I spoke in Runyoro-Rutooro and the Hon. Tibasiima Ateeenyi, MP for one of the constituencies in Ituri, translated to the others. There was also an MP from Mahagi who is an Alur speaker with whom I exchanged Nedi, Afwoyo, Afwoyo Bino, etc. With Dr. Omona, they continued blasting off in Luo. These are the people that we would close off if we tried to physically seal the border. Cut off the toe because it has been invaded by Jigga. No; the NRM patiently removes the jigga and preserves the toe.
Therefore, closing the borders and building walls are out. The only ways are: to crush the ADF (kuhuura like you thresh millet), kutokoora (like you remove something that has fallen in your tea), kuraaza (to know where the animal you are hunting is), and kutooza (to follow the track of an animal).
Fortunately, with the coming of H.E. Felix Tshisekedi to power, he was more cooperative. He has allowed us, since 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.
After repeated kuhuura, the ADF has done two things: shifted to beyond the Beni-Eringeti-Komanda-Bunya Road and broken into small groups, which they hope are not easy to see, and some individuals are 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 the ADF up to Mbandaka if the Congo Government allows us and also guard the rear in Uganda.
The problem with the ADF has been military only for the period between 1996 and 2007 when they were totally defeated. After that, for a long time, in spite of being given free control of large portions of Eastern Congo, the ADF problem remained degraded to an intelligence and diplomatic problem. Intelligence problem, because those who are able to defeat them, like the UPDF, need to know where they are in Congo and what they are planning.
In other words, the eyes and the ears Both the eyes and ears can be human (informants) or technical (machines). In some situations, you can also use your nose to detect evil people (i.e. canines – dogs – in tracking). Since they were given free control of Eastern Congo ever since battalion no. 53 handed back the control of Bunya town to the Uruguay contingent of the UN in April 2003, they built some numbers and built big camps, as you have seen above. By the time “Operation Shujaa” started, the ADF had about 2000 fighters.
This was on the 30th of November, 2021. They had started to 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 December 7, 2017.
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. This is what H.E. Tshisekedi did in 2021 when he allowed us to attack the ADF.
Since they had made the mistake of establishing big camps, we quickly degraded their strength, and they have now either fled beyond our limit of exploitation line (where we are allowed to operate by the Congo Government), i.e., Beni-Eringeti-Komanda-Bunya Road, or they have broken into small groups like the one in Mwalika valley, south of the Mpondwe-Kasiindi-Beni Road, from which a small group that killed our grandchildren at Nyabugaando Secondary School.
In other words, within Uganda and the area West of the Rwenzori Mountains for a distance of about 70 Kilometers to the West, as well as in the Biruunga National Park, ADF is no longer and can no longer be a military problem as long as the diplomatic problem of the Congo Government allowing us to help them is maintained. We can also follow them beyond the present line of exploitation when the Congo Government allows us to.
Therefore, the residual problem of ADF is an intelligence problem to locate where the remnants are and what they are planning.
We already have good capacity in this area, which we have used 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 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, feel some gaps in intelligence collection, and that will be the end of ADF both in Congo and Uganda. Attacks like the one in Nyabugaando are on account of the relaxation in the area by the security forces because the area had been peaceful for a long time.
Actually, 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, and 37 guns plus 7 IEDs were captured.
In my Executive Order No. 3 of 2023 and in an earlier directive of May 19, 2023, I had ordered the putting in place of police units of 18 persons per sub-county, with some motorbikes to help them respond to calls of distress anywhere in the sub-county. I thought of the number 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 will be on standby, ready to move immediately to the area of need. They should be fully dressed, guns in hand, motorcycles fueled, and ready to move at any moment. This solves two problems.
No. 1, they guard the police station so that you do not have situations where a police station is attacked by surprise because everybody was standing down (not ready).
Secondly, they are ready to move out to respond without losing time. Another squad should immediately come out to guard the station while the third squad is resting (sleeping). They change every 8 hours. I saw somebody called Kabugho saying that the police had taken too long to respond. It is possible and likely because they were standing down (not alert), not dressed up, and perhaps many of them were off duty.
I direct Elizabeth Kutesa, my Police advisor, to investigate and report in 3 weeks. However, 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 upgrade the situation by recruiting LDUs per parish.
Those terrorists of Nyabugaando would never have gone back. It was just a gap that is closable. Nevertheless, the Nyabugaando terrorists have been followed, and now that three of them have been killed, four guns have been captured.
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. When the Kiddawalime group attacked people in the area of Masaka in 2018, this was the initial problem. The criminals, using the noise of the disco that was in the trading center of Kisaaka, tried to attack the home of Mr. Katerega, who was a headmaster of a school in Mubende. Fortunately, the house windows had steel bars, and the wife refused to open them.
The people in the house were making alarms, but the disco noise from the trading center was drowning them out. The wife, of course, had a phone, and she rang her husband in Mubende, who, then, rang the RPC in Masaka, etc.—such a long chain of alarms. Fortunately, the criminals failed to enter the house because of the mitayimbwa, and somebody heard the alarm and responded.
The thugs fled and killed a retired Police Officer by the name of SSP Denis Ssebugwawo and four others on the way. However, one of the thugs lost his way and was arrested by the Wanainchi and lynched, leaving some information behind. The Police were now aware of the identity of the criminals but not where they were hiding.
However, the villagers were now alert. On April 10, 2018, the gang attacked a house in Mukoko Village, Bukulula Sub-county, occupied by a nurse, Nakyambadde. As they were struggling to enter, Nakyambadde rang the officer by the name of Steven Twine Owomugisha at the nearby Police post, and she threw away the phone as the thugs were entering her room. As the criminal, Kiddawalime was now ordering Nakyambadde to undress, etc., the police arrived and shot at the thug that was outside the house.
Kiddawalime, who was forced to abandon his project of raping the victim, tried to run but was gunned down. The whole gang was eventually wiped out. The criminals and terrorists Uganda continues to face, given the strong foundation of the NRA-UPDF, are easy to solve, given the defeat we inflicted on the militarized versions of the counter-revolution in the forms of Kony and the ADF-original and their external backers. It is just a case of alertness, intelligence gathering, and coordination between the security forces and the public.
Therefore, in conclusion, the attack on the children at Nyabugaando by the ADF does not mean strength but great weakness. They cannot attack an Army detachment, they cannot attack a police station, and they cannot attack soldiers on the move.
The only people they can attack are unarmed people. How can that be a strength? Nevertheless, what they do is reprehensible, inhuman, and so unfair to the victims that it should not happen. Who are the people to stop these brutalities? Uganda works with the Countries of the region using military, intelligence, and diplomatic means.
The ADF is being wiped out. On the side of the Ugandan population, all of us need to be involved in wealth creation through PDM, the Emyooga, the commercialization of Agriculture, and 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.
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