1 March 2018

Uganda, DRC Shs35 Trillion Case Drags As Deadline Lapses

The government has said it will continue pursuing negotiations with DR Congo to agree on the amount of compensation awarded to the latter by the International Court of Justice despite the deadline having elapsed last month.

The lapse of the deadline means the two countries will go back to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to make a ruling on the compensation sum to DR Congo.

The Hague-based court in December 2016 fixed February 6 as the "time-limit" for Uganda and DR Congo to submit the outcome of their negotiations on the $10 billion (about Shs35 trillion) compensation claim or counter-claims to support each side's position on a proposed amount.

The court said it made the order "taking account of the views of the parties, and conscious of the need to rule on the question of reparations without undue delay" and further indicated that the subsequent proceeding "has been reserved for further decision".

The Solicitor General, Mr Francis Atoke, told Daily Monitor yesterday that irrespective of the deadline, the Ugandan government is committed to continuing negotiations with Kinshasa to reach a compromise on the amount of reparations for the plunder of the latter's natural resources by Ugandan forces.

DR Congo is seeking $10b compensation for plunder of her natural resources by Ugandan forces when they entered its territory in the late 1990s supporting rebels who were fighting the Kinshasa government.

However, Uganda contested the amount, saying it was exaggerated and sought a lower valuation.

Asked about the timeline in light of the looming court decision on the dispute, Mr Atoke said: "Negotiations are not that straight forward, otherwise this is something everyone would have loved to end long time ago."

DR Congo sued Uganda at the ICJ in 1999 over acts of armed aggression that it said violated the UN Charter and Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union.

Uganda was convicted in 2005 after its legal team submitted to the court as its defence evidence a report of a commission of inquiry in Kampala chaired by Justice David Porter, which had implicated senior government officials.

The report had confirmed pillage of DR Congo's resources between 1998 and 2001, but absolved implicated top Uganda government and military officials, including President Museveni's brother Gen Salim Saleh whom a 2001 UN panel of experts named adversely in its report on illegal exploitation of Congo's wealth.

The International Court of Justice used Uganda's own defence evidence in the Justice Porter report to confirm the plunder of DR Congo resources. Uganda was accordingly convicted.

The court asked the two governments to negotiate a compromise on the amount of reparation, but the process has since dragged on.

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