The United States Special Envoy for Africa in Great Lakes Region (GLR), Dr Peter Pham has commended the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) for fighting radicalism in the region.
Dr Pham, a scholar who once called for the splitting of the Democratic Republic of Congo into smaller countries, also applauded the close relationship between UPDF and the US government which he said has benefited both parties.
“The UPDF has played a great role in fighting extremism. UPDF’s participation in establishing peace and security, not only in Uganda but in the entire region, particularly in Somalia is commendable,” the envoy said during a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi, at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs headquarters in Mbuya, Kampala on Tuesday.
Although he acknowledged the government’s role in supporting the peace processes in South Sudan, he, however, advised the top leadership in the army and government to work together with the Democratic Republic of Congo so that they can be able to eliminate terrorist threats such as Allied Democratic Front (ADF), according to deputy army spokesman Lt. Col. Deo Akiki.
In 1992, Dr Pham wrote an opinion on the New York Times headlined ‘To Save Congo, Let it Fall Apart,’ in which he argued that world could then devote scarce resources to humanitarian relief and development instead of preserving the country’s unity.
“Congo isn’t too big to fail; it’s too big to succeed. Rather than striving to hold it together, we should let it break up,” he wrote then.
On his part, Gen. Mbadi thanked the US government for the tremendous support extended to the UPDF in capacity development and training which has improved the force’s effectiveness while dealing with asymmetrical threats.
“We ask you to continue with your support to UPDF especially on strengthening democratic institutions and addressing issues that create more employment opportunities,” said Gen. Mbadi.
The meeting was also attended by the US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac and Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence Brig Henry Isoke.