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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Ugandan army commander sacked
By Will Ross
BBC correspondent in Kampala

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has removed from office one of his top army commanders, Major-General James Kazini.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
President Museveni took action after UN accusations
The move follows two United Nations reports accusing the general of profiting from mining operations while he was head of Ugandan forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The latest, in November 2001, accused him of gaining personal wealth from mining operations in Congo and interfering in the public administration there.

At the time, General Kazini was in charge of military operations in Congo.

Investigation

Following the allegations of plundering, General Kazini was removed from Congo and was surprisingly named acting head of the army.

Ugandan Major General  Kazini
General Kazini denies any wrongdoing

But in response to the UN claims, the Ugandan Government set up a commission headed by Justice David Porter to investigate the accusations of benefiting from the economic resources of the DRC.

General Kazini admitted that he had instructed his field commanders that any money collected from traders in the form of security taxes should be directed to the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven, the Ugandan army's operational headquarters in the Congo.

He told the commission that no taxes materialised and he denied receiving any financial benefit.

Disciplinary action

Last month the Ugandan Government released its findings which concurred with the UN report and recommended disciplinary action be taken against him.

Even after the report was completed, General Kazini denied any wrongdoing.

However, the army spokesman says his removal from office is not as a result of these reports and that General Kazini has been sent for what is described as "further training".

But most will take this to mean that he has been sacked.

New general

Early last year General Kazini stated that he would resign if the rebel Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) was not defeated by the beginning of 2003.

The rebels were not defeated and General Kazini did not resign.

LRA rebels, Vincent Otti (l) and Joseph Kony (r)
General Kazini failed to tackle LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony (right)

He is being replaced by Major-General Aronda Nyakairima who had been overall in charge of Operation Iron Fist - the military offensive designed to defeat the LRA.

Some may view this appointment as surprising because despite the army's claim to have weakened the rebel force, many analysts describe the operation as a disaster which has led to further insecurity, displacement and suffering in the north.

At least 20 civilians were abducted on Thursday by LRA rebels in Alito, 25 kilometres from Lira town.

The rebels sent a message through a priest, whom they released, stating that the LRA leader Joseph Kony wants peace talks but without the involvement of religious leaders.




SEE ALSO:
Rwanda denies DRC plundering
18 Feb 03  |  Business
Timeline: Democratic Republic of Congo
08 Mar 03  |  Country profiles
Q&A: Plunder in Congo
21 Oct 02  |  Business


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