Congo army attacks Ugandan Islamist rebels in lawless east

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:26am EST

(Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo forces attacked Ugandan Islamist rebels in the lawless east on Friday, launching a U.N.-backed offensive to clear insurgents from the mineral-rich zone.

Reuters correspondents outside the town of Beni, in North Kivu province, heard heavy gunfire as government troops moved in on positions held by ADF-NALU rebels who have been based in Congo for years and are seen as a major obstacle to peace.

Another rebel movement, M23, that had operated to the south of Beni was defeated late last year, highlighting how Kinshasa and U.N. forces have begun to take the fight to gunmen that have plagued eastern Congo for nearly two decades.

"The Congolese army has launched operations against ADF-NALU in Beni and as usual (U.N. troops) will support the army to neutralize these rebels, who have been very active recently in this zone," said U.N. forces spokesman Colonel Felix Basse.

A Reuters reporter said that Tanzanian troops from a specialist U.N. "Intervention Brigade", which is mandated to go after Congolese rebel groups, had deployed near Beni but it was unclear if they had joined the fighting.

ADF-NALU is an alliance of groups opposed to the Ugandan government that has operated from bases in eastern Congo since the mid-2000s, undermining Kinshasa's grip on the area and handing Uganda a pretext for intervening there.

Earlier this week, Ugandan and Congolese army officers held a high-level planning meeting in Beni but Ugandan officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

Kampala has previously said it would share intelligence and capture fleeing rebels but not intervene directly in operations on the ground in Congo.

Congo and Uganda have long had rocky relations and U.N. experts have accused Kampala and fellow neighbor Rwanda of backing M23. Both nations denied the charges.

ADF-NALU has been blamed for a spate of recent attacks and kidnappings around Beni, including the deaths of some 40 civilians in an attack on Christmas Day.

The rebel group is believed to number up to 1,400 fighters and has abducted about 300 Congolese civilians over the past year, according to a U.N. report.

Having helped the Congolese army vanquish M23, the 3,000-strong U.N. Intervention Brigade had been widely expected to turn its attention on ADF-NALU and Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels who are also roaming Congo's east.

The Ugandan government has said ADF-NALU is allied with Somalia's al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement but analysts say the nature of these ties is not clear, despite the ADF-NALU's clear Islamist ideology.

Museveni warns Muslims on violence

Posted  Saturday, April 28  2012

President Museveni yesterday warn Muslims against violence and preaching hatred just over 24 hours after several Muslim youth had been engaged by anti-riot police in the city.

Speaking specifically to the Kibuli mosque-based faction allied to Mufti Zubair Kayongo, Museveni warned those who wanted to disrupt Muslim elections that was slated for Friday, to stay away from the exercise if they did not want them.

“There is nowhere in the law where we can stop them from holding elections. To stop them is impossible and we would create more problems. Let those who want to elect go ahead. I urge you, especially Sheik Nuhu Muzaata not to threaten people but to stick to issues,” he said at State House on Friday while meeting a delegation of about 20 Muslim leaders including Mufti Kayongo.

Museveni’s meeting came hot on the heels of Thursday street battles between anti-riot police and Muslim youths from the Kibuli-based faction that matched through Kampala streets intending to ‘overthrow’ Mufti Mubajje at Gaddafi National Mosque, the seat of the Islamic faith in the country.

The youth are protesting the countrywide election, to choose representatives to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council general assembly. It however went on amid fear of violence.

At Gaddafi National Mosque, which is the official seat of the Islamic faith, a small fraction of voters turned out to vote. Out of 250 registered voters at the mosque, less than 60 were present. Mr Nasser Magezi, 28 sailed through unopposed to represent Gaddafi mosque at the county level.

“That is a waste of time. I vote and get what?,” said Mr Musa Dhikusoka after attending prayers at Masjid Taqwa in Jinja Town where Hussein Juma and Said Saleh Kabalagala were elected to represent the mosque. The turn-out countrywide was reportedly low as many voters stayed away fearing violence.

On Thursday, while preaching to faithful at the Kibuli mosque, Hajj Muhammad Kisambira, the secretary general for the Kibuli-based faction, accused Museveni of colluding with Mufti Shaban Mubajje to disorganise the Muslim community in the country.

“It is said Idi Amin was a murderer but he managed to streamline Muslims. Mr. Obote also had his weaknesses but he did not suppress Muslims the way Mr Museveni has done in his last 26-year-old regime. We are calling on all Muslims in Uganda who care about their religion to redeem it. We are warning Museveni government that should these elections goes on as planned, that will be the spark for his downfall,” he warned.

A reconciliatory Museveni fired back cautioning religious leaders who use their pulpits to intimidate and bark at political leaders in public.

“Why this approach when you can solve issues amicably. Like Archbishop Lwanga going to Church and telling us how to run a country, what would happen if I did the same,” he said.

He also said the government is still investigating the death of Sheikh Abdukarim Sentamu who was shot dead in Kampala last week hinting that investigations so far show that the late was in touch with Jamil Mukulu on phone. Mukulu is currently in the DRC, according the President.
 Another meeting between Museveni and the Muslim leaders is scheduled for May 4.

Muslims Threaten War Over Domestic Bill

The Monitor (Kampala)
May 6, 2005
Posted to the web May 5, 2005

By Mercy Nalugo


Muslims have threatened a jihad (religious war) if Parliament passes the Domestic Relations Bill (DRB) in its current form.


The Muslims are opposed to a clause in the Bill, which requires a man to seek consent of his first wife before marrying a second one.


The Vice Chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly (UMWV), Imam Idd Kasozi, flanked by the UMWV Director, Hajji Abbas Kiyimba, said nobody should provoke Muslims because they would fight back (Muslims will fight against being decent human beings).


"We are issuing a warning that if some members keep on pushing Muslims to the wall, they would rebound and we do not want this to happen. But we have to fight for the Muslim principles," Kiyimba said.


He was presenting a paper on the Domestic Relations Bill in a one-day workshop organised by the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/Aids (Uganet) and the Uganda Muslim Women Vision at Tal Cottages in Lubaga, Kampala. "Our answer to the DRB is that it should be amended to accommodate our concerns. We are prepared to fight this battle till the end," Kiyimba said. Kasozi said the fight against the DRB could take the highest level, which is a jihad.


The remarks come a day after the pro-DRB advocates marched through the city streets demonstrating against President Yoweri Museveni's recent directive that the debate on the Bill be suspended until all stakeholders are consulted.


In March Muslims demonstrated against the DRB especially the clause that requires a man to obtain consent from his first wife before marrying another and another provision for scrapping of matrimonial gifts (bride-price).


Former Attorney General Mr Abu Mayanja concurred with Kiyimba. "Let Muslims be governed by Muslim (oppressive) laws, Christians by their laws and other religious beliefs," Mayanja said.


Copyright © 2005 The Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).