Uganda is a country in East Africa with equally higher chances of economic growth as her immediate neighbor Kenya.
Both countries are strategically located on the shores of Lake Victoria which presents them with big opportunities in trade and innovation.
They both are also part of the main contributors in regional anti- terror task forces. Uganda’s deploymet of soldiers in the AMISOM forces in Somalia is regionally commendable.
The country however continues to be crippled in the face of terrorism by armed terrorist groups, markedly the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Uganda has been traditionally immersed in regional security concerns with clear understanding of security threats that surround it. Such threats have derailed Uganda’s efforts to concentrate on her other development agenda. It is a country with immense chances of growth basing on its strategic location on the shores of Lake Victoria and also availability of a wide range of minerals.
Unlike the expected case however, Kenya, as observed in the recent past, has the largest economy amongst the members of EAC in terms of GDP. Kenya’s GDP accounts for 40 percent of the region’s GDP, followed by Tanzania at 28 percent. Uganda only comes third at 21 percent.
Down history, Uganda has been faced with threats from such terrorist groups as the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
And just like other countries in East Africa, Uganda is also exposed to the threat posed by the Al Qaeda linked Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen (Al Shabaab) who are operational in Somalia but carrying out attacks across Somali borders and advancing threats in the whole East African region.
Background to ADF
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a rebel group opposed to the Ugandan government and is considered a terrorist organization. The ADF was formed in 1996 by puritanical Muslim Ugandans who moved as Muslim crusaders, inciting civilians against the Ugandan government on allegations of segregation.
The Alliance of Democratic Forces is made up of Islamist sects and Ugandan opposition forces, supported by the Government of Sudan, which fought the Government of Uganda.
The Ugandan government has in the past dealt a heavy blow to ADF fighters, practically pushing them out of all their operational bases in on Ugandan soil by 2004. Remnants of the terrorist group fled to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they remain vibrant.
The terrorist group has carried out massive killings in DRC that has claimed thousands and at least 10,000 people have fled. Most attacks are carried out in the eastern Beni region of the DRC.
ADF continues to carry out attacks in DRC. According to Human Rights Watch, ADF rebels have carried out multiple attacks in eastern DRC leaving more than 450 people dead since 2014.
The fresh attack in 2015 is of Thursday 20th August where five people were killed by Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces rebels near the DRC’s eastern city of Kamango.
As it is, Uganda continues to battle out ADF outside its borders. Uganda has contributed troops to DRC to assist in the fight against the terrorists.
ADF Imminent Threat to Uganda
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has been exemplary in driving ADF terrorists from within borders of Uganda. ADF may however pose a great security threat to Uganda especially now that they have close connections with the Al Shabaab which happens to be an affiliate to a global terrorist network, the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
ADF is committed to a course in which they expand radical Islam- Salafism in East Africa. Salafist groups support the implementation of sharia law. They partly constitute jihadists such as the Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen (Al Shabaab) who use radical approaches to force people into Islam. They also include the Allied Democratic Forces, who stem from Uganda and try to incite civilians against the Ugandan government on allegations of segregation.
As it is, some ADF fighters are in Somalia at instructional ranks, busy recruiting and training members of the Al Shabaab. With the anger that ADF harbors for Uganda’s government, which obviously will remain in office for a longer period, the ADF- Al Shabaab may strike back as a stronger militant group with a possibility of giving Uganda a slightly bigger headache.