President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is a disturbed man because he has too much on his table to fix, ranging from reaching a settlement with Rwanda and also paying a colossal $10billion in fines to losses it inflicted onto DRC during the UPDF occupation 20 years ago.
Uganda had for almost 14 years refused to pay the DRC and because of this failure, the International Court of Justice had ruled to take up this matter and resolve it legally. The date for Compensations hearing was set for Monday next week.
By showing no intention of paying up its victim, Uganda would on Monday lose the hearing case and this could result in a diplomatic catastrophe as several parties to this court would prefer yet unknown measures against Uganda.
Kampala found an important calculation and decided to invite Kinshasa onto a brotherly discussion. And indeed a business forum was held and important pledges made by Uganda and a two-month timeline set for implantation plans.
Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda will not report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague for a compensations case hearing arising from violations by Ugandan army in 1998 when it invaded and occupied its neighbour.
The court had set November 18th to handle this case that has been dragging on since 2005 but the two countries on November 9th jointly submitted a request letter to the ICJ seeking to set another date for hearings.
Rwanda and Uganda are also scheduled to meet in Kampala on November 18th as part of a follow up on the Angola Friendship Agreement that guides the two countries on how to resolve the existing diplomatic row.
“ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has decided to postpone public hearings on the question of reparations in the case concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda), which had been due to take place between Monday 18 and Friday 22 November 2019,” the court said in a statement.
Uganda has been avoiding at every opportunity anything that would trigger revival of this case in which its violations have been costed to a colossal sum of money worth $10billion as reparations to its Victim, DRC.
In reference to details in this case of which judgment was passed on December 15th 2005, the DRC asserts that the border regions of eastern Congo were attacked by Ugandan forces between 7 and 8 August 1998, and that more areas fell under the control of Ugandan troops over the following months with the advance of the UPDF into Congolese territory.
Uganda was found guilty of setting up an occupational zone which it administered both directly and indirectly by creating and actively supporting Congolese rebel factions.
In its defense, Uganda failed to prove that it didn’t occupy and even engage in administration of part of the Congolese territory. For example Uganda had created a new province and named it Kibali-Ituri province as the result of merging districts of Ituri and Haut-Uélé, detached from Orientale province.
In Principle, the DRC is officially divided into 10 territorial provincial administrations but Uganda created the 11th province named Kibali-Ituri.
On 18 June 1999 General Kazini, commander of the Ugandan forces in the DRC, “appointed Ms Adèle Lotsove, previously Deputy Governor of Orientale Province, to govern this new province”.
In support of this contention, the DRC stated that Colonel Muzoora, of the UPDF, exercised de facto the duties of governor of the province between January and May 2001, and that “at least two of the five governors who succeeded Ms Lotsove up until 2003 were relieved of their duties by the Ugandan military authorities, sometimes under threat of force”.
The DRC claims that the Ugandan authorities were directly involved “in the political life of the occupied regions” and, citing the Ugandan daily newspaper New Vision, that “Uganda has even gone so far as to supervise local elections”.
The Court considered that regardless of whether or not General Kazini, commander of the Ugandan forces in the DRC, acted in violation of orders and was punished as a result, his conduct was clear evidence of the fact that Uganda established and exercised authority in Ituri as an occupying Power.
However, in the same 119-page judgment, the DRC was found guilty of its armed forces attacking the premises of the Ugandan Embassy, maltreated diplomats and other Ugandan nationals present on the premises and at Ndjili International Airport.
The judgment says the DRC bears responsibility for the breach of the inviolability of the diplomatic premises, the maltreatment of Ugandan diplomats at the Ugandan Embassy in Kinshasa, the maltreatment of Ugandan diplomats at Ndjili International Airport, and for attacks on and seizure of property and archives from Ugandan diplomatic premises, in violation of international law on diplomatic relations.
“It would only be at a subsequent phase, failing an agreement between the Parties, that the specific circumstances of these violations as well as the precise damage suffered by Uganda and the extent of the reparation to which it are entitled would have to be demonstrated.
Last week President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC flew to Kampala with a massive government delegation to meet his counterpart Yoweri Museveni. The two leaders later held a business conference and made major pledges.
Museveni and Tshisekedi agreed to jointly build 1,200 kilometers of roads from Uganda to the three eastern Congo cities, Goma, Bunia and Beni.
It should be remembered Aru town was strategic for the Ugandan Army while invading DRC. On August 10th 1998, the 7th UPDF infantry battalion operational force entered the DRC at Aru and camped there for four days before proceeding to capture other parts.
The two countries’ ministers of foreign affairs, infrastructure and finance have agreed to meet within two months and to plan construction of the roads and extension of electricity across the border to Aru in DRC.
Museveni and Tshisekedi have not given a price tag to these pledges and Uganda did not mention whether this was part of $10billion compensation required of it by the International Court of Justice.
Editors Note: Article was first published Nov 15, 2019