Regional security body broke, can’t track rebels

Thursday May 23 2019

Dialogue. Security chiefs from the Great Lakes

Dialogue. Security chiefs from the Great Lakes region after their meeting at Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala, yesterday. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By RISDEL KASASIRA

Kampala. The regional security body tasked to carry out surveillance on armed conflicts in the Great Lakes region is running broke.

It said this has hampered their capacity to do intelligence work on subversive groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces rebels and ISIS who are destabilising the region.

The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) yesterday warned that if its Secretariat, which has been coordinating intelligence sharing on different rebel groups such as ADF is closed, the region may plunge into a security crisis.

The ICGLR executive secretary, Mr Zachary Muburi-Muita, blamed the crisis on member states who have not paid their contributions.
“We are experiencing financial problems. If the Secretariat is closed, I should not be blamed because the member states have not met their obligations.

The staff have gone without pay for five months,” he said during a regional security meeting of intelligence chiefs from the member states at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo.
Mr Muita did not say how much money has not been remitted by the defaulting member states but told the intelligence and security chiefs from the bloc currently meeting in Munyonyo, Kampala, that out of the 12 member states, only Uganda and Kenya have fully paid their subscription fees.

He made a passionate appeal to the heads of state to intervene and have their countries pay the annual mandatory subscription fees to the security body. The countries that have not paid are Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Angola, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville.

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Mr Muita said, without specifying how much each country pays, that the subscription fees vary according to the size of the economy of each country.
“Angola pays the highest amount and countries with smaller economies pay less,” he said.

The ICGLR has been coordinating repatriation of ex-combatants such as the Congolese M23 from Uganda, Rwandan FDRL and mobilising member states to share intelligence on rebel groups like the Ugandan rebels of Allied Democratic Forces operating in eastern DR Congo.

“If we don’t maintain the Secretariat, these groups may find a fertile ground for survival,” Mr Muita told the spy chiefs, who are discussing infiltration of the Islamic State agents in DR Congo and the threats posed by ADF and Ebola epidemic in the same country.

The intelligence chiefs are meeting under the Regional Coordination Committee of ICGLR Directors General and Chiefs of Intelligence and Security Services that met in Congo Brazzaville.

The Uganda’s Director General of External Security Organisation, Mr Joseph Ocwet, said despite regional security threats, 67 M23 rebels have been repatriated to DR Congo and FDRL ex-fighters taken back to Rwanda.

The Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, who was the chief guest said, the region needs “enhanced cooperation” between intelligence chiefs to fight cross-border crime such as drug trafficking and negatives forces like ISIS.

rkasasira@ug.nationmedia.com

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