An anthropologist's take on Uganda and the Great Lakes region...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oil and Aid

Recent weeks have seen a number of significant developments in Uganda’s nascent oil sector, which in combination, may speed up the start of production. The first occurred on 21st March, when President Museveni finally signed into law the Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production and Value Addition) Bill. The bill – which is designed to be the first of three new pieces of legislation relating to country’s recent oil finds in the Lake Albertine Graeburn – had taken more than two and a half years to get through parliament, following a sustained challenge led by a group of rebel MPs within the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Then, on 3rd April, a three-member arbitration panel in London found in favour of the Ugandan government in its long-running legal dispute with Canada’s Heritage Oil (over US$434 million which Kampala claims it is owed in capital gains tax on Heritage’s 2009 sale of its oil rights in Uganda to Ireland’s Tullow Oil). Although the decision does not end the dispute – despite the Ugandan government’s claim to the contrary – it nevertheless significantly strengthens the legal basis for Kampala’s future dealings with international mining companies operating in the country. Finally, on 15th April, the government announced that it had finally reached a decision on the building of a new oil refinery at Kabaale-Biseruka (which is close to the newly discovered fields) – in which the government hopes to retain a 40% stake. On the one hand, the planned refinery is much smaller than the one the government had hoped for: the new plant will have an initial capacity of only 30,000 barrels per day (b/d), which is significantly lower than the 200,000 b/d originally envisaged. Yet on the other, this means that the refinery will be much cheaper to build, and will therefore come on-stream much more quickly.

These potential breakthroughs with the oil sector come at an important time for the Ugandan government, which is still struggling with the fall-out from November’s aid suspensions by many of the country’s main donors. The donors’ coordinated action – which followed allegations that the Office of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi had embezzled US$13 million of aid meant for the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP) – involved the freezing of the entire Joint Budget Support Framework (JBSF) for 2013, and has left the government with a shortfall of US$300 million (7.1%) in its annual budget. In response, in early March the Finance Ministry was forced to publish a revised budget which envisaged deep cuts to ministries’ spending, and to social service provision, as well as a reduction in infrastructural investment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that large numbers of civil servants have already gone several months without pay. In addition, the government have also now revised downwards their growth forecasts for 2013, from 5%, to 4.2%. All of this, then, combined with country’s still very high inflation rate, has left the government facing a severe economic crisis.

On the one hand, the donors’ recent actions have once again highlighted the ineffectiveness of aid suspensions as a policy device. As with the similar suspensions that were recently imposed on Rwanda, the donors – even as they were coordinating their actions – don’t seem to have given much thought as to what they were trying to achieve in the process. Certainly, no explicit demands appear to have been made of the Ugandan government, other than by Sweden (which in late November, demanded that Kampala repay in full the US$6.7 million that Stockholm had contributed to the PRDP). As a result, other than impacting the rank and file of civil servants (who have not been paid in 2013) and presumably also those members of the Ugandan public who rely on social services, it is not clear what effects the aid suspensions are likely to achieve. In an attempt to assuage the donors – and to overturn the suspensions – in November, the Ugandan government ordered the office of the Audit-General to begin a ‘forensic audit’ exercise on the accounts of all government departments, to try to identify fraudulent activity. The following month, they also introduced a ‘High Level Government Finance Reform Action Matrix’, as a general measure aimed at improving economic governance in the country. In addition, the Bank of Uganda (BOU) has also now pledged to reform the system through which bank accounts are set up in the country (in an attempt to reduce the number of ‘ghosts accounts’ through which embezzled funds are frequently channelled.

However, none of this is likely to have much impact on the activities of the upper-echelons of the NRM - or those with connections to senior figures. Moreover, pressure on the president to target senior colleagues such as Mbabazi has been further weakened, over the past month or so, by growing divisions within the donor community over when the suspensions should end. Following an early-March meeting of all members of the JBSF in Kampala, it emerged that only Britain (which appears to have been the driving force behind the frieze in the first place), as well as Sweden and Denmark, remain committed to the ongoing aid suspensions. Meanwhile, Germany, Ireland, the EU and others have all now indicated that they favour a resumption of aid to Kampala, probably by the year’s end. Yet unless the donors can present a ‘united front’ to Uganda over the action, it is doubtful that the suspensions – however long they are in effect for – will exert any real political pressure in the country.

On the other hand, though, the recent aid suspensions have had a marked effect in accelerating the government’s current drift towards ‘economic nationalism’. Museveni’s desire to move in this direction has been evident at least since the publication of the recent National Development Plan (NDP), in April 2010. Whilst not advocating full-blown protectionism, the NDP certainly envisages the government exerting much greater control over its own economy. The current aid suspensions have then further accelerated the government’s moves down this line, as evidenced both by their recent moves aimed at getting oil production on-stream as quickly as possible, and by their related shift towards China as a source for development finance. In addition to being heavily involved in Uganda’s oil plans – through the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) – in mid-April Beijing agreed a new US$9.8 million loan to Kampala. Crucially, the new loan, which is part of the US$20 billion that China pledged to Africa in July, appears to have no conditionalities whatsoever attached to it, and the money can therefore be spent entirely at the Ugandan government’s discretion. It also follows another loan, of US$350 million, that China Exim Bank gave to Uganda last year, which the government is planning to spend on a new Entebbe-Kampala road. In these ways, then, Kampala appears to have much greater control over the new Chinese aid than it ever has with monies provided by the ‘traditional donors’.

However, despite the recent progress that has been made with oil, President Museveni now faces a number of serious obstacle in his plans to further develop the nascent sector, and to use this to further his grip on the domestic economy. In particular, a group of young rebel MPs within the ruling party have vowed to block the presidents moves at every turn. The group has become particularly emboldened since the election of the current (ninth) parliament, in February 2011, during which they have also made oil issues their particular cause celebre. It is this group that was primarily responsible for delaying the first Petroleum bill for so long, and they are now gearing up for a serious fight over thelast piece of planned oil-related legislation: the Public Finance Bill 2012 (which includes an extended section on ‘Petroleum Revenue Management’). Although Museveni has expressed a desire to have this new law passed within the next few months, the ‘young turks’ – supported by the large sections of the media – have vowed to side with the parliamentary opposition in order to defeat it.

In response to the growing threat posed by these rebel MPs, in January, Museveni briefly vowed to suspend parliament, and to impose martial law on the county – a threat that was later repeated by the head of the army, General Aronda Nyakairima. However, if the aim of the threat was to silence the young turks, then it backfired spectacularly, because it galvanized support for the group not only in parliament, but among the wider population as well. In addition, Museveni’s threat of a ‘palace coup’ also drew a strong reaction from the international community. Nevertheless, over recent months the executive has continuously targeted individual rebels. In December, one of the group’s most outspoken members, Cerinah Nebanda (former MP for Butaleja District), was found dead at a clinic in Kampala, in apparently mysterious circumstances. The government initially claimed that she had been the victim of a drug overdose. However, following apparent discrepancies with the autopsy results, Museveni himself was forced to give two press conferences denying official involvement. 

Then, in January, another leading rebel figure, Theodore Ssekikubo (MP for Lwemiyaga) was arrested on charges of ‘inciting violence’, for a speech he made at Nebanda’s funeral. Although he was later released without charge, in early April, Ssekikubo, along with three other members sitting MPs (Wilfred Niwagaba, Muhammed Nsereko and Barnabas Tinkasiimire), were officially expelled from the NRM. The expulsions have set up a potential constitutional crisis, in that being expelled from the party does not necessarily require the four MPs to stand down from parliament – even though this is the president’s obvious wish. Interestingly, the person who will now have to deliberate on the matter in non other than Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga who, although the Vice Chairperson of the NRM, is  also the de facto leader of the rebel group, and is one of Museveni’s most outspoken critics. As if all of this doesn’t make the president’s task of silencing parliamentary criticism over oil difficult enough, Museveni is also faced with a resurgent opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who have been galvanized by the recent election of their new leader, Mugisha Muntu.

With real momentum now developing around the nascent oil sector, it is possible that production might now begin sooner rather than later (although exact predictions as to when exactly when this will be remain notoriously difficult to make). But whether this does signal a genuine shift towards economic nationalism in Uganda will depend very much on how the JBSF donors position themselves in the months ahead. Yet with China becoming increasingly influential in the country, and with Beijing increasingly being viewed by the government as their favoured ‘development partner’, a genuine shift in lines of influence is now possible. In the end, it may be an alliance of rebel government MPs and opposition members who are best placed to check the excesses of the Museveni executive for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rise of the Kingdoms

Since the start of this year, officials from the Kingdom of Bunyoro have been repeating calls for the creation of a ‘regional tier of government’ for their part of Uganda, and also claiming that this should receive up to 12.5% of all revenues from the region’s new oil fields (in the Albertine Graben) – once production starts. The demand is unlikely to be met by President Yoweri Museveni, but it nevertheless demonstrates just how emboldened the kingdom has become in its dealings with central government since major oil discoveries were first made in the area (in 2006). Following the discoveries, the government initially proposed an 80%-20% split in future oil revenues between the state and the districts from which the oil had come. Crucially, though, it was argued that as a ‘cultural institution’, the kingdom itself lay outside the formal structures of district administration, and was therefore initially entitled to nothing. 

However, from that time onwards the kingdom and its allies have mounted a concerted lobbying campaign both in parliament – especially through regional MPs associated with the Bunyoro Parliamentary Caucus and the Greater North Parliamentary Forum – and in the media, and this has latterly forced the government’s hand. From mid-2009 onwards, Museveni has had to consult the kingdom on practically all regional matters, and he was eventually forced to concede on oil revenues as well. Thus, when the first new piece of oil legislation, the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill was finally passed – in December – it included provision for some of the monies to be paid to the kingdom as well.

However, kingdom supporters are now using this newfound political leverage to try to force
The Kingdom of Bunyoro
concessions on various other issues as well, including on some which are not directly related to oil. For example, in April last year, Bunyoro officials lobbied the Ministry of Justice over the establishment of a regional justice centre in Hoima Town. In July, the King of Bunyoro himself, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, met with the president at his official residence in Kirukura District, during which he pressed Museveni over state investments in regional education, health care, and road building projects. Then in October, kingdom supporters also played a leading part in getting the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), to release its long proposed plan for an upgrading of the main Kigumba-Masindi-Hoima-Kabwoya Road (one of the main thoroughfares through the region). Yet perhaps the biggest display of the kingdom’s new found confidence occurred in July, when Bunyoro officials sponsored a major fundraising event at the Ndere Centre in Kampala, which was attended by a broad swathe of the capital’s ethnic Banyoro elite. The event was both a celebration of cultural pride, but also an attempt to mobilize support for the kingdom’s ongoing efforts over oil revenues, and regional development in general.

The discovery of such large oil reserves within the kingdom’s historical territory has of course given particular impetus to Bunyoro’s recent political resurgence (current estimates put the reserves at least 3.5 billion barrels). However, jockeying over future petrodollars is only one of the factors that has led to the revival of the kingdom as a political force. Equally, if not more, important has been the effects of the Museveni government’s long-standing policy of ‘decentralization’ – which have fuelled the rise not only of Bunyoro, but of a number of other ‘traditional’ kingdoms (and other traditional authorities) in other parts of Uganda as well.

Decentralization has been the cornerstone of the Museveni government’s internal political policy since it came to power in 1986. Institutionalized through a range of legislation passed between 1987 and 1997, the system claims to increase popular participation, and improve accountability and service delivery. However, in recent years, a growing consensus has emerged that from the 2000s onwards, Museveni has also used decentralization – and the proliferation of local administrative structures that it allows for – as a kind of ‘divide and rule’ strategy, aimed at fragmenting political opposition throughout the country. For example, it is notable that when Museveni came to power, in 1986, Uganda had 22 districts, whereas today, it has 111 and one city (Kampala).

However, effective as this strategy has undoubtedly been in thwarting major opposition parties such as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), it has also latterly spawned a generation of MPs who are more committed to local issues that to the political centre (for example, all of the younger rebel MPs who have challenged Museveni in recent times began their political careers in the local administration system). More generally, the proliferation of districts has generated more complex sub-national political landscapes. It is in this context, then, that ‘traditional’ authorities have latterly started to thrive. And this revival of kingdoms (and other traditional authorities besides) has been particularly marked in those places where the institutions involved have been able to mobilize local grievances over resource allocation – as Bunyoro has done in relation to oil.

Buganda is another traditional kingdom that has recently revived its political relevance by mobilizing grievances over resources. In one sense, the ‘Buganda question’ – the question of exactly how (by what institutional arrangements) the Kingdom of Buganda is incorporated into the Ugandan nation state, has been a vexed one from colonial times onwards. However, the issue has become politically charged again in recent years, as a result of decentralization. In Buganda’s case, the fragmentation of the kingdom’s historic territory into an ever greater number of separate districts initially weakened the ethnic Baganda elite’s sense of common purpose. In response, both kingdom officials, members of the Buganda parliament (the Lukiiko), and Baganda members of the national parliaments, lobbied intensively for increased powers for the kingdom, as the rightful ‘supra-district’ political entity in the central region. Museveni refused to grant these powers, but he did eventually concede to the creation of a separate ‘Buganda Council’ – to coordinate healthcare, education and infrastructure projects across districts – and he later talked about the creation of a ‘regional tier of government’ for Buganda as well (although to date, this has never been instituted).

However, since the mid-2000s, the kingdom has made its greatest gains over questions of land – gains which have ultimately resulted in Buganda becoming, once again, a key player in the national political landscape. The main catalyst here was Museveni’s new Land Act (which was passed in 1998, although was not implemented until several years later), which devolved all land claims down to newly created District Land Boards (DLBs, one of which was established for each new district in the country). One of the key effects was to divide a number of existing, and in some cases very long-standing, land disputes across multiple DLBs – effectively making it less likely that these claims would ever be settled. The kingdom itself had a particular stake in the problem, given that it is at the centre of the largest land dispute in Uganda (relating to 9000 square miles of land that were taken away from Buganda in 1969, yet which are still claimed by the Kingdom). However, its attempts to challenge the government on the Land Act resonated with a wide range of ethnic Baganda land owners, many of whom found that their claims were similarly divided across different districts (and this situation was relatively common, even for relatively small land owners). More generally, the kingdom’s attempts to present itself as the ‘defender of land’ also resonated with the wider Baganda public – even with those who owned very little, or even no, property at all – in the context of rapid population expansion in Kampala. Following attempts by the kingdom to further provoke the issue through its main radio station, CBS, the issue eventually resulted several days of rioting in and around the capital (in September 2009).

Recent years have also witnessed an attempt by elites associated with the former Kingdom of Ankole to
John Patrick Barigye, self-proclaimed Ntare VI of Ankole before his death in October 2011
re-establish their political relevance by mobilizing over resource issues. Ankole is in many ways the most controversial of Uganda’s former kingdoms, given that it was historically divided into two castes – an elite pastoralist caste (the Bahima), and a ‘commoner’ agricultural caste (the ‘Bairu’) – and was thus, in a sense, always divisive. Indeed, for this reason, it was the only one of the traditional kingdoms to not be reinstated by the Museveni government in 1986, and even today, it is still not officially recognized. Nevertheless, this has not stopped those associated with the current claimant to the Ankole throne, Charles Rwebishengye (son of the late John Patrick Barigye), from attempting to reinsert themselves in the region’s political affairs. In recent years, this group has mobilized under the umbrella of the Ankole Cultural Trust (ACT), which has again gained in popularity by assisting its members with land disputes and, more importantly, by providing a range of education scholarships to supporters’ children – especially in some of the poorer new districts in the Southwest. The success of these initiatives was demonstrated in August, when the ACT staged a huge fundraising event in the region capital, Mbarara, which was attended by all of the 200 most prominent clans in the region.

Recent developments have therefore highlighted the various ways in which Uganda’s ‘traditional kingdoms’ have now become a key part of the country’s increasingly complex national political landscape. Whilst kingdom elites remain unlikely to directly challenge President Museveni’s power in the short term, they may become more important players in the future, especially in the event of any radical shift in Uganda’s governing structures (a prospect that has become more plausible, in recent months, following talk of 'palace coups', and the like). Indeed, it was in order to check this potential rise in their influence that in 2010 the president tabled the Traditional Leaders’ Bill - which aimed to limit the powers of Uganda’s various monarchs (something that Museveni is technically already entitled to do, under article 246 of the constitution). However, as a further sign of the kingdoms’ political force, they were able to mobilize their supporters in parliament to have the more controversial clauses of that bill dropped.

Museveni's Military Might

In February, a delegation of senior government officials from Mali visited Kampala, leading to speculation that Uganda may soon commit peacekeeping troops to that country. In December, the UN Security Council voted to create a new international peacekeeping force for the country, the African-led International Support Mission for Somalia (AFISMA), and it is now widely anticipated that Uganda may be looking to play a significant role within that. If Kampala does commit, it will give the Ugandan Army (UPDF) a military footprint in West Africa, in addition to its already extensive presence across large parts of the central and eastern continent.

In May last year, the UPDF and the US Army Africa (USARAF) co-hosted the second biennial African Land Forces Summit (ALFS) in Kampala. The stated aim of the meeting – which brought together army top-brass from 36 African nations – was to foster relationships between national armies, with a view to engendering future military co-operation (for example, in relation to regional security threats). However, for many commentators, the stated purpose of the conference was overshadowed by the symbolism of the event, which appeared to confirm Uganda’s rise as one of the pre-eminent military powers in Africa – something which has been very greatly assisted, in recent years, by US backing – at the same time as signalling future threats to the country (as characterized, in particular, by Sudan’s refusal to attend the summit). As such, it also raised important questions about the UPDF’s future role in Uganda’s own domestic political landscape, and about Kampala’s increasing use of its army as a primary tool of foreign policy, especially in the region.

In recent years, both the size of the UPDF, and the complexity of its organizational structure, have grown significantly. Following a mass recruitment of 9,000 new soldiers in late 2009, in August 2011, the army passed out a further 3,300 new troops, bringing the total number of regular forces to over 55,000. In addition, in March 2012, senior officers recalled 1,700 former soldiers, suggesting that, although the UPDF does not officially have a reserve force, it has greater numbers of men at its disposal than even this total would suggest (some estimated put the UPDF's unofficial reserves at around 10,000). Over the same period, President Museveni (who is also commander-in-chief of the UPDF), has undertaken a series of mass promotions among the UPDF officer class. For example, in January 2011, he promoted 208 middle-ranking officers. This was followed, in late September that year, by the promotion of 9 senior colonels to the rank of brigadier – the group included Museveni’s son, Kainerugaba Muhoozi, and also one woman, Proscovia Nalweyiso – and in April 2012, by the advancement of a further 204 middle ranking officers (most of whom moved from the rank of captain, to that of major).

Moreover, all of this also took place against a backdrop of increased military spending in the country. In a series of reports published from late 2011 onwards, a leading arms-control NGO, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), found that between the periods 2002-2006 and 2007-2011, Uganda’s arms imports increased by 300%. During 2006-11, Kampala imported 38,000 small arms and light weapons (nearly 20% of the total across Africa), whilst in 2011, Uganda’s total defence expenditure exceeded US$1 billion – by far the highest in the region. Certainly, these figures were inflated by Museveni’s 2010 decision to purchase 6 Su-30MK combat aircraft from Russia (which, although they are relatively old technology in global terms, will nevertheless eventually give Uganda one of the most advanced airforces in East and North-east Africa). However, recent reports have suggested that the UPDF’s spending is unlikely to stop there. In particular, rumours persist that the army has already bought, or else is about to buy, a range of new armour (although UPDF commanders have refused to comment on subject, arguing that the details of arms procurement are classified).

This rapid expansion of the UPDF since 2009 primarily reflects the growing role that the army now plays in Uganda’s domestic political landscape. With Museveni increasingly isolated within parliament – following a sustained challenge by a group of younger rebel MPs from within his own ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) – both he and the executive have become ever more reliant on the army as a means for quashing dissent. For example, in early September 2009, the president deployed the UPDF throughout Kampala in order to put down Baganda ethno-nationalist riots. In April 2011, the special forces group (SFG, which are headed by Kainerugaba Muhoozi) were similarly used to bring a series of opposition-led riots under control. And throughout early 2012, the UPDF were again active in relation to opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s ‘Walk to Work’ (W2W) campaigns. Elsewhere, Museveni has also become increasingly dependant upon the military as a means for strengthening state control over Uganda’s troubled Karamoja region (in the North-east of the country, and in which the UPDF’s 3rd and 5th divisions are currently based).

However, it is in relation to Uganda’s nascent oil sector that the president has become most reliant upon the army. From the time that significant oil deposits were discovered in the Lake Albert basin (from 2006 onwards), Museveni and his inner-circle have attempted to control the nascent oil fields by effectively militarizing the entire region in which they are located. Thus, following a series of cross-border skirmishes between the UPDF and the Congolese Army (FARDC), in 2009, Kampala announced construction of a new army base in Kyangwali Sub-county, Hoima District – which when complete, will be one of the biggest military installations in the country. In early 2010, Museveni then handed over security for all of the oil fields to his son’s SFG, whose duties include policing the ‘special permits’ which are now required for anyone – including elected officials – to access local populations. Moreover, the UPDF’s role in the oil sector is likely to expand once production begins in earnest, in a few years' time.

Yet even if Uganda’s current military expansion is driven primarily by domestic concerns, it would not have been possible were it not for Kampala’s commitment to ongoing military operations in Somalia. From the time the current African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) began, in January 2007 – with backing from the UN Security Council – Uganda has provided the lion’s share of troops for the mission, as well as much of its command-and-control structures. Indeed, following al-Shabaab’s bombings in Kampala in July 2010, Uganda has recently increased its overall commitment to the mission, to 8,000 troops.

The key point though is that prior to the UPDF becoming involved in Somalia, Uganda’s overall military expenditure was effectively capped by the donor community. Throughout the late 1990s, and early 2000s, the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID), in particular, put sustained pressure on Museveni and his executive to limit defence spending as a percentage of their overall budget – even in the context of (then) expanding military operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the north of the country. However, following the creation of the AMISOM mission, any such spending limits have effectively been lifted, with the US, the UK and the EU all contributing to the costs of the intervention. The US, in particular, has already spent US $550 million on military training and equipment for the Somalia force, and much of this has gone directly to Uganda. For example, since 2007, American military contractors have operated a training camp for Somalia-bound UPDF troops at Kakola (about 50 miles northeast of Kampala), which in May 2012 passed out 3,500 men. In addition, since 2007, Uganda has received other forms of military support from the US besides (i.e. over and above that which they have received specifically for AMISOM). Most notably, in October 2011, President Obama deployed 100 US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) to assist in the UPDF in their hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony.

Moreover, all of this has also given Museveni renewed confidence in using the army as a primary means for achieving various of Uganda’s other foreign policy objectives across the region. For example, it has resulted in the Ugandan president reinvigorating the UPDF’s operations in North-eastern Congo and the Southern Central African Republic (CAR) to capture Kony and his men. These operations had been ‘running out of steam’ a little, especially in light of more pressing domestic concerns. However, in the context of Uganda’s renewed military strength – and again, with additional US support – in March last year the UPDF announced that it would form the majority of a new brigade-strong AU force against the LRA. Moreover, following its creation, the new structure almost immediately proved a success, when in May, a UPDF patrol captured a senior LRA commander, Caesar Acellam, near to the DRC-CAR border.
Recent months have also seen a ratcheting-up of the Ugandan government’s rhetoric regarding the current conflict between South Sudan and Sudan. Having supported the Southern People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) from the mid-1980s onwards, Uganda remains a staunch ally of (the now independent) South Sudan, and could thus be expected to be draw into the conflict on Juba’s side. Moreover, this possibility became increasingly real last year, when the Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda Amb Hussein Awadi claimed that Kampala had been providing covert support to rebel groups in Darfur. Reflecting Uganda's new military strength, Kampala's response to these claims has been notably robust. Thus, following the Sudanese Ambassador’s comments, Security Minister Wilson Mukasa refuted the allegations, but also said that Uganda was well capable of repelling a Sudanese attack, and thus had nothing to fear from such an eventuality. Kampala has also been similarly blasé about the possibility of future armed conflict with Egypt over ongoing disputes over ownership and control of water in the River Nile. Indeed, at the time he announced the purchase of the Su-30MK aircraft to his cabinet, Museveni claimed that the new jets would ensure victory over Egypt in the event of any such war.
President Museveni is likely to become increasingly reliant on the UPDF as a tool for quelling domestic opposition in the months and years ahead. He is also likely to deepen their engagement in various theatres of conflict throughout the region, and across the continent. Kenya remains Uganda’s primary ally, and relations between Kigali and Kampala are at an all time high. Therefore armed conflict with either of those states is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, the UPDF’s engagement in North-eastern Congo is likely to continue, and to expand, for many months to come, whilst the potential for renewed conflict with Sudan grows all the time.