M23 rebel fighters stand in the rain at Rumangabo after government troops abandoned the town, north of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, July 28, 2012.
Ugandan officials met this week with members of the U.N. Security Council, refuting a U.N. report that accused Uganda of supporting rebels in Congo, and threatening to pull Ugandan peacekeepers out of Somalia. The Ugandan government is optimistic about the results.
A Ugandan delegation spoke with members of the United Nations Security Council on Monday and threatened to pull out of regional peacekeeping missions unless the U.N. retracts a report Uganda has called “malicious.”
The document, leaked to the media earlier this month, accuses Uganda of supporting the M23 rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, supplying them with troops, weapons and advice.
Uganda reacted angrily on Friday, declaring that unless the report was amended, it would withdraw its troops from the peacekeeping force in Somalia, as well as the hunt for warlord Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic.
Government spokesman Fred Opolot said the Ugandan position was delivered both to the president of the Security Council and to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The meetings in New York, led by Information and Communications Technology Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, went well, he said.
“As government, we will sit down to get feedback from Dr. Rugunda, whereby we can see a way forward," Opolot said. "But otherwise the initial feedback is quite positive. The report has been positively received.”
What Uganda is looking for, says Opolot, is a complete retraction of the allegations in the report, which also calls for sanctions against Uganda.
“Government is hoping to be exonerated from the allegations of the expert group of the Security Council," he said. "The government has made concerted efforts to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the DRC, and therefore it is hoping for a positive response as far as the allegations are concerned.”
At the moment, Ugandan troops form the backbone of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which has helped push al-Shabab militants from their major strongholds in the country. Most experts agree that if Uganda were to pull out, it could be disastrous for the mission and for Somalia as a whole.
But, speaking anonymously, many Western diplomats have reacted skeptically to Uganda’s threats, saying they do not believe the country intends to follow through.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who met recently with the Ugandan president, told reporters she expected Uganda to keep its troops in Somalia, citing the country’s historic leadership role and commitment to regional security.