Uganda has made its first war reparations payment to the Democratic Republic of Congo for losses its troops caused during wars and occupations in the 1990s. Uganda paid Kinshasa $65 million; the first of five annual payments ordered in February by the International Court of Justice. Uganda's payment came as a surprise after years of proceedings and talks with the DRC.
Uganda’s payment to the Democratic Republic of Congo follows a ruling by the International Court of Justice early this year. The court ordered Uganda to pay $325 million to the DRC as reparations for an invasion that lasted from 1998 to 2003.
Under the order, Uganda is to pay $65 million in September of each year from 2022 through 2026.
Uganda Ministry of Finance spokesperson Apollo Mughinda tells VOA that the first payment is a gesture by Uganda that it is willing to pay the amount set by the court.
“Uganda has paid the first installment as per the requirement. We paid 65 million dollars. And you can see the goodwill," Mughinda said. "If something happens along the way, because we are brothers, we are all members of the East African community, well, it can be negotiated further.”
The ruling by ICJ Judge Joan Donoghue came seven years after Uganda failed to pay or negotiate a request from the DRC to pay $11 billion in compensation for the war.
Great Lakes expert Dismas Nkunda says Uganda’s willingness to make the payment was shocking.
“I am shocked that we can pay. I’m shocked that we can pay on time. I’m shocked that Uganda can listen to a decision by an international court," Nkunda said. "First of all, the matter before the International Court of Justice, they didn’t take it seriously in the beginning. And they thought that it’s matter they could do a diplomatic maneuver over it and discuss with DR Congo and it would end.”
The $325 million payment includes $225 million for damage to persons, $40 million for damage to property, and $60 million for damage related to natural resources.
The Reuters news agency reports DRC government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya confirmed that the first of five installments was received.