New Rebel Group Sparks Fears in West Nile

NRA Fighters Enter Kampala in 1986
FILE PHOTO - Courtesy - NRA Fighters Enter Kampala in 1986
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Political trouble could explode in West Nile Sub-region, warn activists! A fresh rebel group might be in the making if the government doesn’t settle old scores.

The West Nile Pro-reform Agenda (WENPRA), a fiery group from Yumbe District, is sounding the alarm. They say trouble might erupt because some members of the now-defunct Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF II) never got their due compensation.

Sheikh Muzamil Musa Alumgbu and Mr. Andruga Batta, two voices from WENPRA, claim that when the government made peace with UNRF II back in December 2002, a renegade bunch led by Brig Rajab Ayiga Ayile were left out in the cold.

“These folks in Yumbe aren’t just ordinary robbers,” asserts Mr. Andruga. “They’re rebels who’ve been lurking in South Sudan. Some are even hanging out in Kibili. The GISO knows about them. They’re looking for blanket amnesty,” he exclaimed in a recent interview.

Now, WENPRA members are firing off a petition to the Amnesty Commission, demanding recognition for Brig Ayiga’s gang and their resettlement. They’re claiming that Brig Ayiga came back to Uganda willingly, enticed by the President’s promise of amnesty.

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Promises unfulfilled

According to the petition, “He willingly gave himself up to security forces. They held him in Yumbe before whisking him to Kampala, supposedly for a meeting with the President.” Yet, they assert, this meeting never transpired.

Just a month ago, a rebel group allegedly attacked Romogi Sub-county residents. Fortunately, the UPDF pushed them back, and security forces rounded up several suspects.

The petition emphasizes that these issues are incredibly important. If left unaddressed, Brig Ayiga’s group might draw more followers, transforming into a deadly insurgency.

Colonel (Retired) Obitre Gama, the Amnesty Commission chairman in North West Nile, stated, “I’ve just received a copy of the petition, and I’m examining it. Perhaps I’ll have a more detailed response in a week.”

When Maj Telesphor Mwirima Nduhira, the UPDF 4th Division spokesperson, was contacted, he claimed ignorance regarding Brig Ayiga’s arrest and the alleged transfer of his fighters to Nakasongola Barracks by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. However, he vowed that any rebels seeking amnesty would be handled strategically.

Past Rebels in W. Nile

This isn’t the first time West Nile has seen rebels. In the 1980s, Gen Moses Ali formed the Uganda National Rescue Front, battling the Obote II regime before signing a demobilization agreement.

Later, Gen Ali Bamuze created Uganda National Rescue Front II, an offshoot of the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) led by the late Juma Oris in 1996. Bamuze’s group operated mainly in Yumbe, Obongi, and Moyo, eventually signing a peace agreement on December 24, 2002. The terms included incorporating a UNRF II battalion into the Ugandan army and providing the group with Shs4.2 billion in compensation.

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