Home | News    Sunday 6 March 2005

Ugandan troops on standby for deployment to Sudan’s Darfur

By Grace Matsiko, The Monitor

KAMPALA, Mar 5, 2005 — The UPDF has been put on standby for deployment in the troubled Darfur region of Southern Sudan.

A Kenyan soldier brusher sand from a landmine during a de-mining demonstration at the East African International Mine Action Training Center (IMATC) in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, February 17, 2005. (Reuters).

The Uganda soldiers would be part of the international peacekeepers operation there.

Military sources said yesterday a battalion-size military force of 1200-1500 soldiers has been put on alert for immediate deployment in Darfur. The final decision will come after the conclusion of talks between the United Nations and the Ugandan Ministry of Defence.

"About 30 officers have been put on standby to lead the mission to Darfur," a reliable military source said yesterday. Assistant Chief of Staff Brig. Ben. Biraro was said to be handling the operation on behalf of the ministry.

Biraro was not available for comment.

Army and Defence spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza neither confirmed nor denied the Darfur deployment. "I can’t tell you its true or not true until I have been briefed," he said.

A military source conversant with the UPDF operations said some of the selected leading UPDF officers have already undergone briefing on the military exercise.

The conflict in Darfur, which has pitted black African rebels and government-backed militias of Arab heritage, has claimed over 200,000. Two million people have been displaced.

Rwanda, Uganda’s neighbour, was one of the first African countries to deploy troops in Darfur to stem what has largely been perceived as genocide against the black population by the pro-Khartoum government militia, the Janjaweed.

The Monitor has also established that President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday sanctioned yet another foreign deployment of UPDF soldiers. Four officers are expected to lead a peacekeeping mission to Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, which is undergoing an upheaval.

Uganda is among the African countries the UN asked to provide a peacekeeping force to the war-torn cocoa-growing region of Ivory Coast where forces of President Laurent Gbagbo have been fighting rebels.

According to military sources, Museveni gave acting ranks to the four UPDF officers to lead the Ivory Coast mission. An acting rank is a temporary promotion to enable an officer to execute a specific duty, especially if it requires a higher rank.

Military sources said those given temporary promotions from the rank of a Captain to Major include Memory Bariyo, John Barisigara, Sam Ntuyo, and Capt. Fred Karara.

Bariyo is the Deputy Director of Procurement at the UPDF General Headquarters while Barisigara was a battalion operations and Training Officer. It was not readily established where Maj. Ntuyo has been stationed. Karara, a long serving officer, was recently transferred from the counter-intelligence department of the CMI to the UPDF Rehabilitation Centre in Mubende district as Operations and Training Officer.

Uganda has also had other requests from the United Nations to deploy troops to help in stabilising Somalia. The UPDF has already sent some officers to Somalia.

The Director of Operations in the Army Commander’s Office, Col. Clovis Kalyebara, is already in Somalia to prepare ground for the UPDF contingent there, expected next month.

Maj. Charles Bakahumura, a liaison officer in the mission, accompanied Kalyebara.

State minister for Defence, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa said the Somalia operation had been delayed by lack of logistics from the UN.

"The UN promised to provide logistics (and) we are waiting, as soon as they are ready, to move," she said earlier this week.