Ugandan forces’ approach to fighting ADF raises questions: Analysts
Analysts warn that ongoing summary executions of suspects by security forces will only strengthen ADF’s cause
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has warned members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group hiding in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to surrender or be killed.
In a televised address to the nation Saturday night, Museveni confirmed that the Ugandan government is in talks with the DRC to launch attacks on the rebels but declined to elaborate.
The ADF, which is “affiliated” with the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization, is responsible for a twin bomb blast last week in Uganda’s capital Kampala that killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others.
Security forces have since launched operations against the rebel group, killing five suspected terrorists and arresting dozens.
In the latest operation on Thursday, security agencies raided the home of a suspect, identified as Muhammad Kilevu, gunning him down and arresting his wife.
Ugandan police said he was involved in recruiting people into the ADF and promoting the re-emergence of its cells within Kampala and resisted being handcuffed.
His children say, however, that he was handcuffed inside his house and led out, where he was killed.
Another suspect, Musa Mudasiri, also known as Moze, was shot dead during what security personnel called an attempt to flee, but some eyewitnesses say Mudasiri was shot as soon as he opened the door of his house.
Ugandan police say they have so far killed five suspected terrorists during raids following the two deadly suicide bombings on Tuesday in Kampala.
Analysts warn that the ongoing summary executions of suspects by security forces will only strengthen the ADF’s cause. They say the killing of suspects already arrested may lead to missing out on vital security leads.
“Nothing would boost the ADF’s recruitment drive more than to have a violent crackdown. The combatants use violent attacks not to overthrow the Ugandan regime but to attract international recruits from sympathizers,” Adam Sebyala, a lecturer at Al-Mustafa International University, told Anadolu Agency.
“When you summarily execute an unarmed person who is handcuffed, people will see no justice and security forces risk being viewed as terrorizing suspects. Summary executions are unconstitutional. Life can only be taken away after due process,” he added.
Joseph Kasule, a research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), whose PhD dissertation discussed the ADF in great detail, said that much of what is attributed to the ADF is conjecture. Kasule said the problem with terrorism is that the government makes it almost treasonable to question the official narrative that it is the ADF rebels that are behind these attacks.
Kasule further said that it will be very hard to understand the real source of terrorism in countries like Uganda, whose leaders have immensely benefitted from their alleged fight against terror.
He added that ever since the global focus shifted away from good governance to the war on terror, regimes with democracy deficits have exploited the fear of terrorism to perpetuate their continued stay in power and justification to purchase surveillance systems and lethal military equipment.
Swaib Kaggwa Nsereko, a politician from opposition Justice Forum, popularly known as JEEMA is Uganda, said the ADF is useful for the regime because it gives them an excuse to attract international support, especially from the US, as well as to crack down on opposition groups.
"The ADF is here to stay. That doesn't have anything to do with whether it is real or not, because it is used as a vehicle for particular interests that are within domestic politics," he added.