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Uganda - Foreign Relations

Uganda is landlocked and depends on foreign imports for most of its consumer goods and energy requirements. Even before independence, maintaining an open trade route to the Indian Ocean was the primary foreign policy objective of all governments. For this reason, once the railroad from Mombasa to Kampala was completed early in the protectorate period, relations with Kenya became the government's most significant foreign concern. During much of the period of British rule, the most worrying foreign issue for politically conscious Ugandans was the possibility that Kenyan white settlers would gain control over all of East Africa.

Economic differences eroded initiatives toward federation and eventually led to hostilities between Uganda and Kenya in the 1980s that would have been unimaginable two decades earlier. After independence, political issues erupting into violence within Uganda or its neighbors also caused serious strains in their bilateral relations, frequently involving rebels, refugees, and even military incursions.

Postindependence heads of government in Uganda made almost all significant foreign policy-making decisions themselves, leaving their foreign ministers to carry them out or explain them away. In order to shore up their domestic power bases, Obote, Amin, and Museveni often introduced new foreign policies that broke sharply with existing relations.

The Museveni government introduced new radical foreign policy objectives when it first came to power and consequently brought new complications into Uganda's foreign relations. At the outset, President Museveni enthusiastically supported international and especially African cooperation but conditioned it on an ideological evaluation of whether or not other regimes were racist, dictatorial, or corrupt, or violated human rights. During its first four years in power, the government moderated its foreign policy stance to one that more closely reflected the conventional positions of preceding Ugandan governments.

The Ugandan Government generally seeks good relations with other nations without reference to ideological orientation. Uganda's relations with Rwanda, DRC, and Sudan have sometimes been strained because of security concerns. Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi participated in the US-facilitated Tripartite Plus process, which helped ease tensions and contributed to increased bilateral contacts with the aim of resolving conflicts between the neighbors. Uganda has more than 5,000 peacekeepers in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

In addition to its friendly ties to Western nations, Uganda has maintained ties with North Korea, Libya, and Iran.

Russia is prepared to develop military and technical cooperation, as well as cooperation in the energy sector and infrastructural projects with Uganda, President Vladimir Putin said at the talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Moscow in December 2012. Putin stressed that Russia actively developed relations with friendly countries to the south of the Sahara. The turnover between Russia and those countries is growing and will soon reach $4bln. This was the first visit of the Ugandan president to Russia. It was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group operating in western Uganda and eastern DRC near the Rwenzori Mountains, emerged as a localized threat in 1996 and inflicted substantial suffering on the population in the area. It has largely been defeated by the Uganda People's Defense Force, and the affected areas of western Uganda have been secured. Remnants of the ADF remain in eastern DRC

In October 2009 the World Court found Uganda guilty of invading neighboring Congo during a 1998-2003 war and committing human-rights violations there. Congo's government says it will ask for billions in reparations and called the decision a warning to the country's other neighbors. Six years after the Democratic Republic of Congo took neighboring Uganda to the World Court, the U.N.'s highest court found Kampala guilty of violating Kinshasa's sovereignty and committing human-rights abuses there.

Giving its verdict in the Hague, the World Court said Uganda was also responsible for plunder in the mineral-rich country. The five-year war was declared ended in 2003, but fighting and war-related hunger and disease has killed about four million people since 1998. A landmass the size of Western Europe and wealthy in resources ranging from diamonds and copper in the south to timber and gold in the north, the Congo remains a chaotic and war-torn country.

Sudan acquired new planes, battle tanks and support artillery in recent years. Kenya acquired new tanks and was also in the process of acquiring new fighter jets, while even the Government of Southern Sudan is building a new army. Further north East, Eritrea and Ethiopia are also upgrading their weapons systems.





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