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A new front in Eastern Congo

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Tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa and fightings between the UN and M23 rebels have eclipsed the opening of a new front in Eastern Congo, at the feet of the Ruwenzori Mountains.

ugd2Since early July 2013, there has been a resurge of activities from the Alliance of Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) in North Kivu, between Goma and Lake Edward. The US ambassador in Kinshasa, James Entwistle called on the 4 July ADF-NALU and other rebel groups to lay down weapons A few days later, participants of the Symposium of Episcopal churches of Africa and Madagascar which took place from the 9 to 15 July also in Kinshasa, condemned attacks of Congolese villages perpetrated by the Uganda rebels. The spokesman of the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the DRC, Sylvestre Ntumba Mudingayi revealed that fightings between the Congolese army and the ADF-NALU militias in the territory of Beni, forced 66,000 people to seek refuge in Uganda According to witnesses quoted by the Agence congolaise de presse (ACP), some of the rebels were speaking Arabic.
According to the French political scientist Gérard Prunier, there is no doubt that the Khartoum authorities are behind the sudden revival of ADF-NALU which emerged first in the early 1990s as the merging of three separate movements: one was the monarchist Rwenzururu movement which gathered people from the Bakonjo and Baamba tribes which live at the feet of the Ruwenzori. They were calling for the creation of a kingdom like the Buganda. At that time, they had formed a small guerrilla group called the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). Then, there was a second group called the Allied Democratic Movement (ADM) which grouped Baganda monarchists who considered that the autonomy granted by Museveni in 1993 was not sufficient. And then, there was the Uganda Muslim Liberation Army (UMLA) made of Banyoro moslems who were themselves influenced by the tabliq moslem Indian group. UMLA went to a process of radicalization under the leadership of Jamil Mukulu, a former protestant pastor who was converted to Islam and was getting money from the Sudanese islamist charity Da’wa Islamiyya
ugd3From 1994 onwards, some Interahamwe Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after the victory of the Rwandan Patriotic Front also joint ADF-NALU. The only link between these heterogeneous groups, says Prunier, are that they were all financed by the Mukhabarat Sudanese secret services, who are always eager to destabilize Museveni whom they considered as their archenemy in the Great Lakes area. ADF-NALU. At the end of 2003, the group was almost dismantled. NALU supporters felt they had no longer reasons to fight because they obtained the creation of a small “cultural” kingdom. ADM declined and UMLA activities dropped considerably after Mukulu’s escape out of the country. But over the last months, Khartoum resumed its support to ADF-NALU.
According to Prunier, the main reason behind this decision is Yoweri Museveni’s support to the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SFR) which groups black moslems in Darfur, in Southern Kordofan and in the Blue Nile, who feel marginalized and are also fighting the Khartoum islamist regime. In retaliation, the Mukhabarat have decided to give a new life to the old and almost forgotten ADF-NALU heteroclit coalition.  

Khartoum  support

The Sudanese aim is not to destabilize Congo or even Uganda. The aims are geopolitical and military. The objective in fact is to create confusion in Kampala through these attacks in the rear of the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF)  and persuade Museveni that the should better give up supporting the SDR. Khartoum is also  banking on the fact that United States are not supportive according to Prunier to the SDR and other groups which may undermine the stability in the region. Sudan’s support to ADF-NALU may also be useful in another way. It may also deter investors who would be interested to build oil pipelines from Southern Sudan and Uganda to ugd5Lamu in Kenya. At the end of the day, President Omar El  Bashir could benefit in other ways from Sudanese support to ADF-NALU: it could help Khartoum to get a greater support from South Sudan over oil issues, especially if it has no alternatives to evacuate its oil, Khartoum also expects that this support may deter Museveni to support the SDR. On top of that, Khartoum is also relying on a third party to back ADF-NALU. Gérard Prunier confirms allegations by Ugandan intelligence sources and by the governor of the Congolese province of North Kivu, Julien Paluku, that Somali Shebab djihadists are fighting on the side of ADF-NALU. Accordingly, six Shebab are part of the new ADF and are probably by Khartoum which already helped the Somali islamist radicals. In turn, the Shebab subcontracted ADF militants to organize bomb attacks in Kampala during the World cup in 2010 in order to deter Uganda to continue its military involvement at the head the Africa Union peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). According to Prunier, the first contacts between the Shebabs and ADF began at that moment and Jamil Mukulu is believed to have acted as an intermediary between both Sudan-backed groups.

(F.M.)

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