A number of US troops have recently been sent to Uganda to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which is accused by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity including mass murder, sex slavery, and recruiting child soldiers.
However, experts are saying that the US has entered the troubled region to gain favor of Uganda’s newly discovered oil deposits, and to support its proxy war against the al-Shabab movement in Somalia.
About 8000 Ugandan troops make up the majority forces fighting in Somalia instead of dealing with the LRA in their own country.
Press TV has interviewed with Steve Mulindwa a political analyst to discuss the issue.
The following is an approximate transcription of the interview:
Press TV: Steve Mulindwa , some people say good we want the American support, they look at what’s happened in North Africa and the destruction of the Gaddafi regime, done with western NATO help.
And they say actually, when the West gets involved in Africa it doesn’t always go the way we don’t want it to go- sometimes it works for us.
Mulindwa: I’ll probably say one thing here- [it] is that of course as [the other speaker on the show] Mr. Vincent has said LRA hasn’t been active for years.
But the fact is that it’s still in existence. It’s a fact that it is still in Congo in other areas of Congo. I think this is probably one of the reasons why. But…
Press TV: Would you accept that wherever it goes it is a disruptive and frightening force especially for the people, the villagers who I don’t know- are the victims of these guys- without protection.
Mulindwa: I think that I’ll accept that it’s still a threat but having said that it doesn’t cause future Americans coming in because it hasn’t been a threat to the country for a very long time.
But there is a picture that people forget to look at and that is the fact that the American interest has to come in and America’s worried about China now, it’s worried about India, it’s worried about Brazil, it’s worried about other economies that are coming in. Oil could be a key factor, obviously everybody is…
Press TV: If the Americans are coming in for oil and it’s the Ugandans oil to sell, then isn’t that a good thing?
Lots of people are coming in for the resources; you could say OK I have the gold; I have the wealth, I have the extractable minerals; I have the oil: I can charge it at the price that I want to set because there are so many people who want it.
Isn’t that a good thing that the Americans are coming to stabilize that?
Mulindwa: It’s a good thing; but look at the- I think the oil situation is not handled properly- the way it’s handled in Ghana for example: Ghana has handled the oil situation in a very different way.
You know, the American moved into Ghana but why suddenly the interest in East Africa. If you go back ten years ago they had an interest in Ghana; they wanted to build a military base- the AFRICOM in Ghana; now these could be…
Press TV: I’m just wondering then Steve- how Uganda should manage the relationship with the United States because much of the rest of Africa is watching.
Because we all know the reason why the US was frightened to have boots on the ground was because of the [First Battle of Mogadishu] black Hawk incident in Somalia in 1993.
And they were frightened of coming back and there was a bit of an intrigue through the whole Libyan operation and now we have this with Uganda- is why people are monitoring you so closely.
Mulindwa: I still look at it as- there are still key factors with the British troops in Kenya, America probably needed a reason to be somewhere in Africa as well.
And Barack Obama’s father being a Kenyan; Uganda having had LRA situation; maybe there was a weakness there. They had to find a way in.
All I’m looking at, maybe they needed a base somewhere in the African continent – you’re looking at the situation in Sudan and of course the situation in Somalia, they needed- if there foots on the ground somewhere it’s easier to monitor certain things within the region and …
Press TV: But [Americans] they have embassies all over Africa and they have good relationships with African countries…
Mulindwa: The embassy- it’s not the same as sending a drone in, coming all the way from Washington. If they’re sending a drone and its coming somewhere in Uganda…
Press TV: It’s not a military base they’re establishing in Uganda, is it?
Mulindwa: You can never know. It could be a start of something. You have to start somewhere. You can’t just come in and say it’s a base there.
Press TV: Is this going to result in Uganda actually turning away from the United States, which has been friend to the country?
And saying you are sure in supporting a man who has been in power for 25 years and actually we don’t want him anymore?- even though of course there was an election earlier this year and he was returned to power, although some people weren’t happy with that particular process.
Mulindwa: It’s extremely difficult to judge where the whole thing is going to end. Because one thing I’ve learnt in politics is that you sometimes expect something to go the other way and then it goes this other way.
It could work advantageously, in [Ugandan president Yoweri] Museveni’s favor as [the other speaker on the show] Vincent says.
But it also could work the other way round but the key thing is always going to be: what is at the table? What has happened in the period of time? Because the revolution that started in Tunisia- I mean the Arab Spring- Nobody, nobody had ever dreamt that such a thing would ever happen.
So a similar thing could be because what is happening at the moment is that the people on the ground like what the gentleman- the journalist was saying, the determination- everything begins from the ground: Are people fed? Are they OK? Are they having…
Press TV: The first thing is that people want bread and they want security.