11 April 2007

Uganda: Country Pays Tanzania Shs120 Billion Amin War Debt

UGANDA has cleared the $67 million (approx. Shs 120bn) war debt to Tanzania that accrued from the latter's role in the 1979 war that led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's government exactly 28 years ago today.

Bank of Uganda yesterday confirmed that the country has since cleared the debt.

Tanzania's troops helped Ugandan dissidents including current President Yoweri Museveni topple Amin and the subsequent policing of the country beyond the December 10, 1980 elections, which resulted into the second Milton Obote regime.

Subsequently, Tanzania billed Uganda for what Dar es Salaam said were the costs arising from Tanzanian property destroyed by the Uganda army as well as the equipment and services offered by the Tanzania People's Defence Forces in the war against Amin.

Tanzania has also been training officers for the Ugandan armies that succeeded Idi Amin's forces, including the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA ).

Amin whose regime was accused of torture and murder of an estimated 300,000 Ugandans was overthrown on April 11, 1979 - before he ran into exile. Amin subsequently died on August 16, 2003 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after living in exile for 24 years.

Juma Walusimbi, the Director of Communications at Bank of Uganda said yesterday that Uganda had cleared the debt through "cash payments, trade arrangements and debt buyback arrangements".

Without mentioning specifics, Mr Walusimbi said Uganda had finished paying up the debt, after negotiations, which included the option of the debt buyback at a discount of between 12-15 percent.

However, a finance ministry official told Daily Monitor that the debt was cleared in 2000.

According to a 1999 study commissioned by the Uganda Debt Network, several other external debts were incurred during the war against Amin.

For example Libya was found to be owed $100 million (approx. Shs 180bn) and Yugoslavia $35million (approx. Shs 64b).

The Libyan loan accrues from support extended to Amin against the Tanzanian offensive.

According to the Uganda Debt Network (UDN) report, the debt was accumulated partly because victors in war transferred their war costs to Uganda.

The UDN then argued that since debts contracted by liberation groups are not recognised in law, and the wars against Uganda were against legitimate governments, they should not be honoured.

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