20 December 2012

Uganda: Change Tactics to Defeat Rebels - Think Tank

Nations fighting a Ugandan Islamist rebel group based in volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo need to switch tactics if they are to defeat it, a think tank said Wednesday.

Officials should rethink their policy of applying military pressure against rebels from the ADF-Nalu (Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), said the International Crisis Group.

Instead, they should focus on tackling the cross-border networks providing economic and logistical support for the group, it said in a briefing.

"Strong military tactics are not required," said the ICG's Thierry Vircoulon.

"A process of weakening the group's socio-economic means of support while at the same time offering a demobilisation and reintegration program to its combatants should be pursued," he added.

UN investigators have linked ADF-Nalu to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents by the United Nations.

The group battled the Ugandan government in the mountainous Rwenzori region along the border with DR Congo in the late 1990s.

In October, Congolese church officials blamed them for the abduction of three Catholic priests in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A UN report released in November estimated the number of combatants at over 1,300, of whom around 800 were thought to be trained and well-armed.

The rebel group had widely been considered as dormant, but in 2010, the Congolese army launched an unsuccessful offensive against them.

In its briefing, the ICG called for UN sanctions against those providing backing to the group and called on Uganda and DR Congo to punish any military officers supporting the group.

The UN has already imposed sanctions on the head of the organisation, Jamil Mukulu.

A UN report published in November said the group was thought to have strong support networks in Britain and that it had recruited members in Burundi and Tanzania.

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