A summit bringing together commanders of land forces of different African armies opened in Kampala yesterday with President Museveni cautioning the continent’s military brass against dabbling in sectarianism.
The President described groups fighting religious wars such as Boko-Haram of Nigeria and al-Shabaab of Somalia as “idiots” with “ideological bankruptcy”. He blamed the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency on having a small and ill-trained UPDF which he said was compounded by support provided by the government of Khartoum to the rebels.
“Africa armies must be ideologically independent from foreign exploitation and manipulation. Some external forces told us not to spend 1.9 per cent of our budget and we had to reduce the size the army,” Mr Museveni said.
Sudan did not send a representative to this year’s meeting. The Commander of Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, told Daily Monitor that Sudan had also been invited to attend the summit but said it was “their choice” to attend.
When asked whether the meeting will discuss the question of the American African Command (Africom) base being shifted from Germany to Africa, the Commander of the US Army Africa, one of the key facilitators of the summit, Maj. Gen. David Hogg, said the base would remain in Stuttgart.
Some African countries have previously shown interest in hosting the base but the matter remains a divisive issue.
A number of African countries have remained opposed to the hosting of such a huge American military presence on the continent amidst unspoken worries that it could become a staging point for American expansionism. Maj. Gen. Hogg yesterday described the capture of LRA’s ‘Maj. Gen.’ Caesar Acellam by the UPDF as a “good thing” for the efforts to “eliminate LRA”.
The US military has teams of military advisers working alongside regional forces seeking to exterminate the LRA threat in the Great Lakes region. Gen. Katumba said he hopes ‘Maj. Gen.’ Acellam would cooperate giving “crucial information” on the LRA operations.
Both officers refuted suspicions that the LRA rebel officer may have surrendered, insisting that he was captured by Ugandan troops hunting LRA leader in the Central African Republic.
By Risdel Kasasira, Daily Monitor