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Uganda National Rescue Front
Uganda National Rescue Front II

After the elections, the stage was set for confrontation. The first guerrilla group to come into being, in July 1979, was the Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF), under the chairmanship of Amin's ex-minister of finance, Moses Ali. Together with other smaller guerrilla groups in the area UNRF was largely made up of Amin's ex-soldiers, forced to flee by the liberation war and at this stage probably keen to rehabilitate the ex-president. UNRF's major West Nile operations began only after Obote's election victory, and between 1980 and 1982 its Lugbara, Madi and Kakwa fighters successfully held most of the northern part of West Nile, and eventually began to present themselves as a democratic group with a civilian leadership fighting to overthrow dictatorship. Despite further military successes in 1983, the UNRF never fully recovered from the UNLA Christmas 1982 offensive.

In July 1985, Acholi elements in the UNLA, led by Lieutenant General Basilio Olara-Okello, himself an Acholi, overthrew the Obote government. General Tito Okello Lutwa (not related to Basilio), himself an Acholi from Namu-okora (Kitgum District), became President. Two organizations comprised mainly of ex-Amin soldiers in exile in Sudan the Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) and the Former Uganda National Army (FUNA) were given arms and joined the Okello Government.

The United National Rescue Front II operated from Sudanese bases and were supported by the Government of Sudan. On 08 July 1998 a United Nations World Food Program (WFP) worker was killed instantly when guerrillas from the Uganda National Rescue Front II fired a rocket-propelled grenade at his WFP truck. Members of UNRF--II also carried out a number of abductions and killings in the northwest during 1998. The UNRFII attacked a WFP vehicle in Moyo and killed a WFP driver in September 1998. In mid-January 1999 the UNRF (II) killed 7 people and abducted 56 civilians, mostly school children, in an attack in Arua district.

It was reported that the UNRF II have split into two factions, the original led by Juma Oris and the breakaway group by Ali Bamuzes. There were no credible reports that UNRF II was responsible for the death of civilians during 2000. On 19 April 2002, approximately 1,350 UNRF-II rebels based in Southern Sudan returned to the country with their families to negotiate resettlement terms under the Amnesty Program.

In May 2002, the Government of Uganda sent a nine-member team led by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs to talk peace with the UNRFII rebels in Yumbe District. After four days of talks the two sides agreed to formalise a cease-fire agreement. The peace process started in 1998. On 15 June 2002, the Government of Uganda and the UNRF signed a formal cease-fire agreement.

In September 2002, Nasur Ezaga, the elderly former chairman of the UNRF returned to Uganda after having spent the last 13 years in exile in Sudan. He said that his return was testimony that the government of Uganda was interested and serious about the peace process. On 24 December 2002, a peace deal was signed between the Government and the UNRF rebels after over five years of negotiations between the two sides. In the peace deal about 700 of the rebels would be integrated into the Ugandan army while the remainder will be given resettlement packages.

The UNRF rebels had not been a serious destabilising threat in recent years. There were no credible reports that UNRF II was responsible for the death of civilians during 2001. UNRF II had been inactive for years and was returning to the country under the amnesty program.

Under the 2000 Amnesty Act, government assistance was provided to former rebels to assist their return to the country. As a result of a December 2002 peace agreement, the Uganda National Rescue Front II (UNRF-II) was successfully demobilized as a rebel force. Several former rebels were integrated into the UPDF and UNRF II leader Major General Ali Bamuze was promoted. Several former rebels received reintegration packages to help them reenter civilian life. However, others in the group complained that the Government had not delivered assistance that had been promised.




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