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Group claims Museveni behind M23 rebels

 President Yoweri Museveni during a past interview in Uganda. [UPPS]

A Uganda rebel group that had been active in the 1990s and was reported in sections of the Kenyan media has resurfaced.

The group is now claiming to be ready to oust President Yoweri Museveni from power.

Operating in parts of East Africa, Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa region, the Uganda Liberation Movement (ULIMO) led by little-known Colonel Musa Mpanga is now calling on President Yoweri Museveni and his associates to come clean on the atrocities being perpetrated in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speaking to The Standard, the leader of the more than three-decades-old movement accused Museveni of being a secret mastermind of rebel group M23. The Rwanda-backed group has been associated with deaths, civil strife and untold human suffering in the Kivu province, DRC.

Uganda’s State Minister for International Relations Henry Oryem Okello has been on record dismissing calls that Uganda was involved in subversion against President Felix Tshisekedi’s government. Late last year, he was quoted harshly dismissing the calls terming them “hogwash, rubbish” and unsupported by any evidence. The calls had been made in Kinshasha by sections of Members of Parliament (MPs).

“The allegations are false. That is hogwash, rubbish! There is no iota of evidence,” he said, challenging the MPs from DRC who accused Uganda, to produce any incriminating evidence against his country. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has been leading mediation efforts which have seen the DRC government refusing to meet with the M23 rebels describing them as terrorists.

 In July, Uhuru held a meeting in Goma, in the heart of the conflict zone, at the end of which he reiterated a call for a "peaceful resolution" of the crisis. "We are not here to open new negotiations," he told the media, after meeting in the capital of North Kivu with the Congolese authorities, representatives of the United Nations, and Western diplomats.

The Congolese authorities have refused any dialogue with the M23, demanding the disarmament of its troops without conditions and the withdrawal of the Rwandan army.

However, speaking to The Standard in Nairobi, Col Mpanga, whose popularity seems to have fizzled out in recent times, said the key support of M23 is not Rwanda. “Everyone claims that M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda but that is not the case. The real benefactor is Museveni,” said Mpanga.

Sources within Uganda's security and political circles however dismissed Mpanga's claims describing him as "a fake social media group." A high-placed security source told The Standard that "such a colonel has never been heard of in Uganda."

Col Mpanga subscribes to the school of thought that pronounces African values which include aligning traditional ruling systems with modernity said he has firsthand information on the eastern Congo conflict and that the suffering will end if President Museveni is made to own up.

“Museveni is propelled by resources in Eastern Congo which he has been seeking not for himself but for his masters in Europe and America” Col Mpanga told The Standard at a meeting in Nairobi. “Most presidents in Africa are used by foreign powers to mine resources in the heart of Africa. Museveni is one of them.”

ULIMO has for three decades been pushing for the removal of Uganda's ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) from power using the power of the gun. Mpanga has been leading rebel activity outside Uganda’s borders. 

Additional reporting by Godfrey Badebye in Kampala, Uganda

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