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Special Report

Uganda Suffocates With $10Bn Compensation To DRC




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

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Special Report

Museveni “Illegally Promoted” New Spy Chief From Major To Colonel in 2013



Uganda’s new head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) is an officer of concern that the region will carefully want to scrutinize since he has been entrusted with a controversial military agency featuring in incubating trouble between Uganda and the southern neighbour.

Taarifa Investigative Desk has reliably learned that Uganda’s new Spy Chief Maj Gen James Birungi, a well trained tank Armour Fighter was in 2013 illegally promoted from Major to Colonel. This could be a trigger for minders to reset their lens on this new officer who has had stints in the Airforce, Special Forces Command and now the dreaded CMI.

Gen Birungi came into the world in 1973 at Ngoma, current day Nakaseke District. Birungi attended Ibanda Secondary School for O level and Nyakasura School for Advanced level. He later joined Makerere Business School Nakawa, MUBS, where he pursued a degree in Business Administration.

In 1996, James Birungi, a very shy but ambitious young man, was among a group of 11 recruits that joined the Uganda army and underwent a one year basic military training course at Kasenyi in Entebbe.

Birungi was later sent to India for a cadet officers course where he spent a year and graduated as a Second Lieutenant.

On return from India, Birungi’s first deployment was under armoured Brigade, a specialized unit of the UPDF Land Forces with its Headquarters at Kasijjagirwa garrison in Masaka District.

He also undertook different tank courses and was deployed in Kitgum District in 2002. Birungi was commanding tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to escort supplies for soldiers in the Forward Operating Bases.

Birungi was later transferred to Karamoja to fight cattle rustling. From Karamoja, Gen Birungi was sent to Karama at the rank of Major as the Commandant of the training school.

He later joined Presidential Guard Brigade, now SFC in 2008, after attending Junior Staff courses at Gaddafi Barracks (Kimaka), Jinja.

In 2013 Birungi was promoted to Colonel and appointed acting Chief of Staff of the Air Force until he was taken back to SFC as the commander.

Birungi’s promotion from rank of Major to Colonel faulted the law and procedures and this propelled protest from members of the Ugandan parliament.

Opposition MPs led by Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda petitioned the East African Court of Justice, accusing President Yoweri Museveni of faulting procedures while promoting and appointing officers. Birungi’s ranks were not stripped as intended by the MPs and remained a senior officer of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.

Those who Know Birungi

“He is a free man, mature enough, jolly and God fearing officer,” says Godfrey Ssempijja a resident in Bugonga, Entebbe.

“He is trustworthy but decisive, determined and principled cadre soldier, a friend of the young people and a son to the revolution,” Ibrahim Kitatta says.

Left : Maj Gen James Birungi has been appointed Chief of Military Intelligence

Birungi’s views

While speaking at the graduation party of his colleague, Birungi made some tantalizing remarks that most people just go to school to study, acquire degrees and other academic qualifications but never put into practice the skills they obtain.

“Even if you study to the level of a professor and you don’t implement the skills acquired, your education is meaningless. Some people just go to school just to acquire a degree but they cannot explain what they will do after acquiring it.”

He gave an example of those who have degrees in business management yet they cannot even start a small business.

However, Birungi forgot that he holds a degree in Business Administration and instead of pursuing a career in business he is now in the military. This view will mostly help in understanding how Birungi applies reverse phycology in management of information gathering, processing and eventual application in decision making.

Maj. Gen. James Birungi, a well trained tank Armour Fighter was in 2013 illegally Promoted from Major To Colonel.

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Special Report

When Rwanda Was Accused Of Stealing Burundi Drums



Before colonial  interference and eventual drawing of imagined boundaries, Rwanda and Burundi were once one solid nation known as Ruanda-Urundi later Rwanda-Burundi as a colonial territory, once part of German East Africa, which was ruled by Belgium from 1916 to 1962.

The People of Burundi and Rwanda speak a simillar language and practice the same culture and various norms.

Now two independent countries with extremely diverse visions, their recent past relationship  has not been one to boast about. Their militaries repeatedly clash, governments slam doors on each other and trade unending accusations but also surprisingly return to roundtable and mend fences without mediation.

In 2019, Burundi Accused Rwanda Of Stealing Drums Culture And Doing It So Badly.

It all started in 2015 when hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled to Rwanda from brutality of Pierre Nkurunziza’s regime as he was seeking a forced third term in office contrary to constitutional provision leading to a failed coup.

Among those that fled Burundi, included a group of Drummers organised under Himbaza group. In 2019, this group applied to take part in the ‘East Africa Got Talent’ television show in Nairobi-Kenya.

The group registered as from Rwanda. But when introducing themselves to the audience, they said they were Burundian refugees who had been living in Rwanda since 2015.

Himbaza group Performing at the ‘East Africa Got Talent’ television show in Nairobi

Willy Nyamitwe, a senior advisor and spokesman of Burundi’s former President Nkurunziza, was not amused at all.

“Not Original and not Authentic at all,” he wrote on Twitter, August 19. “These guys should be ashamed for debasing the quality and the cultural originality of Burundi drums in Rwanda,” Nyamitwe said.

However, “Himbaza Drummers” were so good that the judges voted them to the next round.

Organizers of the show, in response said via a statement that they “deeply regret” if any offence has been done by inclusion of the Himbaza drummers.

“Entry to the show was open to anyone who has the legal right to residence in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania irrespective of their nationality. The contestants are legal residents of Rwanda and therefore are legitimate contestants on the show,” said organisers.

Demonstrations against the Government of Rwanda in the Burundian capital were the order of the day, hundreds of Rwandans and their businesses were targeted but Rwanda refused to be provoked.

In 2014 UNESCO registered the ritual dance of the royal drum a Burundian tradition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity  with hope to preserve and share with the world.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye (right) drumming sacred drums

Rwanda and Burundi currently maintain a closed border and have clashed several times since 2015 but the two sides have been involved in shuttle diplomacy and have announced that anytime the border may reopen.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye who is currently enjoying his annual leave, chose to traverse the country and visit various touristic destinations. He has been seen with his family enjoying boat ride, walking through a forest and most recently he visited Sanctuaire des tambours sacrés de Gishora (Sanctuary of the sacred drums of Gishora) in Gitega province.

He garbbed drum sticks cheerfully spotting the red, white and green national colors of the famous Burundian drummers. Ndayishimiye did not hesitate to harmoniously sketch a few dance steps. He even sang some patriotic songs.

“You who have devoted your life to the drums, I did not barter the zither for the modest sum of 80 francs, I did not throw away my 90 francs for a razor blade, I did not betray my country for 1,000 francs, I did not become a young man, the kind of spendthrift in well-watered parties”.

And the guardians of the sacred drums sanctuary of Gishora loudly proclaim their approval by responding loudly with their cry: “Eeeeh! ”

The sacred drums sanctuary of Gishora: “It houses the Ruciteme and Murimirwa drums, 119 years, and served as a place of refuge for King Mwezi Gisabo when the resistance against the German invasion was organized.”

Ndayishimiye’s visit at the site hosting sacred drums of Gishora may have been a signal to end the Drum politics that had pitted the two countries against each other in 2019 and could pave way for opening a new chapter with Rwanda once accused of stealing these drums.

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Special Report

Habyarimana Sent Finance Minister’s Wife To Poison Kagame



In February 1992, a very busy Paul Kagame while commanding Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels, set aside some time to have an exclusive conversation with Sam Mukalazi, a Ugandan journalist at one of the rebel bases at Muvumba in Rwanda.

The war had entered its second year since the former refugees united and armed under Rwanda Patriotic Front/army overran Kagitumba border post on October 1, 1990.

The clashes were intense as heavily armed and well trained government forces, with support of air power, inflicted heavy casualties on rebels.

Kagame told Mukalazi that the rebel movement had suffered major losses and the rebels had lost morale especially influenced by successive deaths of their commanders at the start of the war.

Kagame, who was away on the first day of attack, flew back from the US to replace fallen commander Fred Rwigema who had been killed in action.

During this conversation, Kagame told the journalist that he had vowed to reorganise the rebel group and had begun achieving remarkable success, for example, his efforts had paid off in capturing a vast stretch of several kilometres deep from Kgaitumba to Ruhengeri and was considered the rebel operational zone.

“There is a large portion of this stretch on which the enemy cannot dare step,” Kagame told the journalist.

Commander Kagame boasted that the biggest and most successful battle in 1992 was in Butaro, starting January 23 and continuing for 10 days.

“We attacked enemy defences in Nyamucucu,Kitenge and Butaro and we overrun six of their seven defences,” he said.

He told Mukalazi that these RPA victories on the battlefield had provided strength to the rebels.

However, President Juvenal Habyarimana in Kigali was planning something terrible against rebel leader Kagame.

It should be remembered that 1992 was a busy year for both fighting sides.

The government army was fiercely fighting with the rebels while their political representatives were dressed up in suits for roundtable peace talks in neighbouring Arusha, Tanzania.

Habyarimana had carefully identified a non suspecting person to deliver and administer poison to Kagame. The Kigali regime had on several occasions declared Kagame dead.

“We arrested a woman sent by the Kigali government with some poison meant to finish me off,” Kagame disclosed to Mukalazi with a smile. “Even if I died, the struggle would go on,” Kagame added.

The woman was identified as Eugenia Kaitesi and said to be a wife of the former Rwandan Minister of Finance.

Kaitesi had been arrested in mid 1991 and was still being held by the rebels at the time of the conversation with this journalist.

According to Kagame, the woman assassin had claimed that her assignment was being coordinated by a Rwandan diplomat in Uganda and that if she had succeeded with this assassination mission, she was going to acquire a big mansion in Brussels at the expense of the Rwanda government.

Jean Pierre Claver Kanyarushoki was the  Rwandan ambassador to Uganda and led the Rwanda government delegation to Arusha peace talks in the same year.

The intention of the Habyarimana regime announcing the rebel commander’s death might have been to raise the morale of government demoralised troops that had lost subsequent battles.

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