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You are here:Home>>Emeka Chiakwelu>>Displaying items by tag: Uganda
Displaying items by tag: Uganda

 

United States President Obama sends Troops to Uganda, Africa

President Obama authorized the deployment to Uganda of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” – meaning capture or kill – Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA. The forces will deploy beginning with a small group and grow over the next  month to 100. They will ultimately go to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the permission of those countries.

The president made this announcement in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Friday afternoon, saying that “deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.” He said that “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

The president said that for more than two decades the LRA has been responsible for having “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and continues to “commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

A senior Defense official says the 100 military personnel will be mostly Special Operations Forces and that they “will be traveling  out to field locations in the areas affected by the LRA where they can interact with and advise those forces that are actively pursuing the LRA.”   The official stressed, “they will not be engaging in direct combat against the LRA.” The US has been helping the four African nations counter the LRA for several years by providing local militaries with training and equipment.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo the US helped train a light infantry battalion deployed to fight the LAR and  over the last three years in Uganda the US has provided $33 million to help Uganda’s military.

This 31-year-old woman from Niangara was abducted and mutilated by the LRA on April 13, 2010. After clasping her lips together with pliers, the LRA combatants forced a 16-year-old Congolese boy, abducted during a previous attack, to slice off her lips and her right ear with a knife. © 2010 Human Rights Watch

As for how long the US troops will be in the region, a spokesman at US Africa Command says he could not provide specifics, “but our forces are prepared to stay as long as necessary to enable regional security forces to carry on independently.The president in his letter noted that Congress passed “the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act,” signed into law on May 24, 2010, in which, the president said, “the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”

When the president signed that letter in May 2010,  he said the bill “crystallizes the commitment of the United States to help bring an end to the brutality and destruction that have been a hallmark of the LRA across several countries for two decades, and to pursue a future of greater security and hope for the people of central Africa. The Lord’s Resistance Army preys on civilians – killing, raping, and mutilating the people of central Africa; stealing and brutalizing their children; and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.  Its leadership, indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, has no agenda and no purpose other than its own survival.  It fills its ranks of fighters with the young boys and girls it abducts.  By any measure, its actions are an affront to human dignity.”

The act passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming support on May 10, 2010 with language that included “providing political, economic, military, and intelligence support for viable multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army.”

More from  Human Rights Watch on the infamous LRA.

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A large oil reserve estimated 2 billion barrels has been found in the Albert region of Uganda by oil firms Tullow Plc and Heritage Oil & Gas Company. The people of Uganda including President Yoweri kaguta Museveni are elated about the discovery. This is good news and with efficient management Uganda can say good-bye to poverty. Uganda can now increase her GDP and foreign reserve.

The oil discovered in Uganda contains less sulfur which is good but it is waxy with high viscosity. It does easily coagulate at room temperature making it difficult to extract and transport. Therefore it might be expensive to extract and refine. It is estimated that Uganda needs $8 billion to develop its oil infrastructure. Uganda does not have such enormous capital instead she will turn to foreign financiers and international financial institutions. Uganda must be deliberate, careful and calculative in order not give up her new found wealth by payment of high interest rate and arrears on loans for financing the oil development.

The East African country - Uganda is a poor country with majority of the population surviving with less than one dollar a day. In next two years the production, exploration and extraction of the oil will be in full force. Most of the oil produced will be geared towards internal consumption and the remaining will be for export.

Uganda is making arrangement with Norway to build a functional oil refinery in the country so she can process crude oil in her country and provide jobs to the citizens. Unlike Nigeria that refine her crude oil outside the country due the breakdown of her ill-equipped refineries, Uganda is making the right decision to use her oil to lunch industrialization in her country.

This is a big breakthrough for Uganda and 30% of the revenue to finance her budget comes from foreign donors. Therefore with this development Uganda will free herself from foreign donation and its attached strings. Uganda must live up to her international obligations with unwavering commitments to democracy, free enterprise and respect for human rights.

Uganda government and managers can now formulate economic policy to transform their country. President Yoweri kaguta Museveni has been talking about industrializing his country; with the new found resources he can lay down the industrial rudimentary that will prepare her country to take off industrially. The most important thing the government and policy makers can do is to train their work force with superior education that is needed to compete and perform efficiently in 21st century globalized economy.

With this new found wealth from oil, the country might be tempted to neglect the agricultural industry of the nation and relied on food importation to feed her people. It will be a big mistake with deplorable ramifications. The country must be vigilant and utilized the oil generated resource to booster agriculture in the country.

On agriculture, Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol said, "Agriculture is the future of Uganda and Africa for arable land must be cultivated. Oil can generated the capital to finance modern farming in Uganda. Africa must feed herself and Uganda can become food exporter. Oil is a limited and diminishing energy based commodity and its future is unstable with the emergence of renewable energy for 21st century. Uganda must diversify her economy, so she will not depend wholly on oil."

Uganda just like the rest of African countries is beset with poverty and corruption. If the government of Uganda is serious about improving the lot of their people, they must be aggressive in arresting the two mentioned problems. The government must explore the ways to improve the standard of the living especially in the rural areas. The basic needs of housing, light, clean drinking water and roads must be provided to ameliorate wellbeing in the urban and rural areas.

The environmental integrity of the nation must be upheld in spite of the temptation to relegate the issue of environment to the back burner. Oil exploration is associated with oil spill and air pollution that can pose a threat to the environment, which can devastate the ecosystem. Therefore this calls for standard of operation backed with best management practices to be formulated and implemented.

The issue of corruption associated with petrodollar is a reality in that part of the world. The poor people of African oil producing countries including Nigeria, Angola and Gabon are testaments and have not benefited from their country’s oil wealth.

The only panacea to corruption is transparency and open book. The news coming from Uganda that the government is not disclosing the contracts they signed with the oil companies is not encouraging.. Uganda claims to be a democratic nation and in democracy the power belongs to the people. There must be an open book, transparency and probity in order to avoid the curse of oil wealth in the east African country.