The UPDF and American Special Forces have suspended operations against Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the Central African Republic following a directive from Seleka military junta.
The military junta reportedly ordered that all foreign troops withdraw from their country.
Sources told the Daily Monitor that Ugandan forces were planning to withdraw but the UPDF political commissar, Col. Felix Kulayigye, who is also acting as Spokesperson, said they have “temporarily suspended” the operations “until further notice”.
“Since Seleka rebels took over government, they have not been cooperating with us. They have been saying all foreign troops should leave. It’s their country and we have temporarily suspended the operations until further notice,” he said.
The suspension of the operations might see attacks, and abductions by LRA, intensify in areas where Ugandan soldiers have been operating. The Seleka coalition overthrew President Francois Bozize last month in a pitched battle that left 13 South African soldiers dead. South Africans were deployed in Bangui to support Mr Bozize.
Col. Kulayigye said all Ugandan soldiers will assemble in the main bases for further directives. “We have collected ourselves, waiting for further directives,” he said.
UPDF and American Special Forces have bases in Obbo, Djema in eastern CAR and have been hunting Kony since 2010.
The American embassy information officer in Kampala, Ms Crane Elise, said they held consultations with the Uganda government about the suspension of the operations.
“We (US) have temporarily paused the operations against LRA to give us time to consult with the state department. We have consulted the government (Uganda), African Union and other partners to determine the way forward,” she said.
The American Special Forces have been helping UPDF to gather intelligence and strategic planning since early 2012. But operations have been hampered by thick forests that make it hard for hunting squads to move faster and track down the enemy.
Col. Kulayigye, however, said they will maintain “defence bases” in the eastern part of the country. He also alleged that one of Seleka leaders is close to Khartoum government. “The information we get is that one of them has Sudanese connections,” he said. Uganda has variously accused Khartoum of protecting and arming LRA, whose top commanders are said to be hiding in Darfur, a territory controlled by Khartoum.