The opposition Justice Forum (JEEMA) has advised the government of Uganda to consider peace talks with the Allied Democratic Force rebels (ADF), as the lasting solution to the persistent armed attacks on Ugandans often leading to bloodshed.
In a statement issued on October 25, 2023 the opposition JEEMA expressed concern over the prolonged use of arms against the ADF, saying it will only lead to loss of lives of innocent Ugandans and will worsen the already bad economic situation of our country.
The JEEMA spokesperson Ssentongo Abdulnoor Kyamundu, says the lasting solution to the ADF problem is for government going into negotiations with top ADF leaders like Jamil Mukulu who is currently in government custody.
“Mr. Museveni has always assured Ugandans that rebel groups like ADF, LRA and others have been decimated. We also recall that in 2022, UPDF launched an operation on DRC soil, codenamed Operation Shuuja to clear the remaining ADF rebels. A few gains have been announced from time to time. However, armed killings of Ugandans including high profile individuals have continued to happen and the same government attaches them on ADF and its allies” the statement reads in part.
Jamil Mukulu who is believed to be the principal founder and former leader of the ADF was arrested was arrested in Tanzania in 2015 and later handed to Ugandan authorities. He is currently in prison awaiting trial for charges such as murder and crimes against humanity.
JEEMA statement notes that Mukulu “seems to be in full command of his troops up to date” and if the government is ready for dialogue, “JEEMA is more than willing” to play a mediation role.
“It’s high time the state dialogued/negotiated with the leader of ADF and found a political solution that can put an end to the war between the Uganda government and the ADF. This will not be difficult as Jamil Mukulu is in the custody of the government; at Luzira Maximum Security Prison. This will not be the first time that the Museveni government negotiates with ADF or an armed opposition group.” Mr. Kyamundu said.
ADF is a terrorist group with origins in Uganda but currently operating in the jungles in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The militant group with links to Global Islamist militants ISIS is suspected to have been involved in the recent murder of two foreign tourists which occured in Queen Elizabeth National Park on October 17, 2023.
JEEMA says the murder of tourists is and will remain a big blow to the tourism sector which contributes about 3.6% to the country’s GDP and employing about 1.6million people.
It is not clear whether Jamil Mukulu or other ADF leaders are willing to negotiate but also Ugandan authorities have severally rejected talks citing ADF’s linkages to Internationally sanctioned terror group -Islamic State.
When another Opposition party Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) recently mooted the idea of peace talks with ADF, government spokesperson Dr. Chris Baryomunsi flatly rejected the idea saying ADF lack a political objective and therefore the national army UPDF will continue to pursue the militants.