First published by Change of Guards Blog on June 5, 2016
(Museveni: during the pass out of North Korea trained Police at Masindi, April 2014.)
North Korea's relations with Uganda date as far back as the early 1960s when diplomatic ties were established immediately after independence. At the time, North Korea was offering free higher technical and specialised education, arms and finance to a number of African countries like Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, etc who were struggling for their independence and the fight against Apartheid in South Africa.
Museveni while in exile in Tanzania in the early 1979s travelled to North Korea for guerrilla training. Milton Obote's 1st and 2nd governments received military support from North Korea. In 1981, Obote made a goodwill visit to North Korea where he signed cooperation agreements in technology, economy and cultural areas. North Korea agreed to deploy a military team of 30 military officers to manage the equipment maintenance project and infantry training based in Gulu.
These experts trained a specialized unit of the UNLA dubbed Crack Unit based at Nakasongola. In November 1984, 200 North Korean troops arrived in Uganda to boost the UNLA's Crack Unit. It carried out combat operations against Museveni's NRA insurgents in the Luwero triangle. It gave the NRA a rough time and 3 Koreans lost their lives in action. They left Uganda in September 1985 following the overthrow of Obote by the Okellos in July 1985.
When Museveni took over in January 1986, he adopted quite a number of military equipments that had been supplied by North Korea to the UNLA thus he had to request for experts from North Korea to come and train his men on this machines. In 1987, Museveni made his first official visit to North Korea. Following the visit, North Korea provided Uganda with a military loan worth US$ 4M, 40 military advisors, and 150 NRA military personnel participated in a joint military exercise with North Korea.
A consignment of weapons consisting of Surface to Air Missiles, eight truck mounted rocket launchers, sixty Anti-Aircraft guns, ten Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), unknown amount of ammunitions was despatched from North Korea and offloaded at Dar Is Salaam port before being transported to Uganda. Korean experts conducted the first formal Military Intelligence course at Kireka barracks during that same period.
The graduates of that course are currently the senior military and intelligence officers in both Rwanda and Uganda. In 1989, a batter trade deal worth US$4.2M of military weapons and clothing in exchange for coffee beans and cotton from Uganda was signed. DDelivery of military equipments and clothing from North Korea continued into the early 1990s. North Korea has been assisting the Uganda Police with training in martial arts, specialised units and martial arts since 1988.
Since coming to power, Museveni has visited North Korea for three times. In June 2013, a high delegation from North Korea led by the Deputy Minister of People's Security visited Uganda. They inspected the Police training that was being conducted by the North Koreans where the visiting Deputy Minister was photographed holding a tear gas canister launcher in the company of Police Chief, Kayihura. During the same visit, mutual cooperation agreements were signed for among others, the construction of housing units for the Police.
In October 2014, North Korea's ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam visited Uganda and during the State banquet, Museveni praised North Korea for its "prominent role in fighting imperialism." He added that North Korea had helped by training Uganda's Mechanised Units and Airforce. During the four days visit, the two countries signed an MOU on bilateral cooperation. In the same year, Museveni hypocritically refused the International Kim Il Sung Award that North Korea had offered him.
In May 2013, Museveni became the first Ugandans head of state to visit South Korea. During the visit he praised the achievements of former South Korea dictator, Park Chung Her. Following this visit, South Korea has supplied Uganda with a total of US$350,000 worth of military equipments. US$ 320,000 for bullet proof vests and helmets in 2013; US$ 20,000 for grenades in 2014; and US$ 10,000 worth of flares. In August 2015, South Korea set up its first Military Attache office in Kampala.
This accounts for Gen. Aronda's mission to South Korea before he died while on a plane flight from Seoul. Museveni castigated the government of South Korea accusing it of negligence and South Korea responded with a diplomatic protest. Last week the President of South Korea led a strong delegation on a short visit to Uganda. During the visit, ten MOUs of cooperation were signed that among others included military aid. During the same visit Uganda announced its termination of military cooperation with North Korea. In a series of the usual uncoordinated statements from government officials, they were quick to reaffirm that they were not severing diplomatic relations with North Korea.
SANCTIONS AGAINST NORTH KOREA
Since 2005, Uganda had abstained from voting against all the nine UN General Assembly resolutions over North Korea's poor human rights record. The UN eventually imposed sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear test and ballistic missile launch. Despite the sanctions, Uganda continued with its military dealings with Uganda - military and police training, weapon transfer, weapon repair and servicing, establishment of a small arms factory at Nakasongola, supplying of repressive police equipments, etc.
45 North Korea security experts are training the Police in Masindi. Until 2007, Uganda had refused to have its Nakasongo Army Factory to be inspected by international experts and even when it did its only the ammunitions production line that was viewed. Uganda is suspected to have acquired man portable air defence system from North Korea. In April 2016, a report by a global think tank, USIDS listed Uganda as one of the six countries that seemed not to be ready to cut military ties with North Korea.
The Museveni regime has a special bond with North Korea that can not be easily done away with. The two regines share all the characteristics of a military dictatorship, despotic leadership, political repression, totalitarianism, worst abuse of human rights, ecc. All the repressive schemes that have kept his regime in power have been supported by North Korea. Given the current political situation in Uganda, Museveni needs North Korea now more than ever before.
Its newfound friendship in the South Korea comes at a time when Museveni is all out to fight the so called "western imperialism" and North Korea is his No. 1 ally in this war. Therefore, Nuseveni is at his survival games once again and this time around adding South Korea on the list of countries that he has always blackmailed. In his estimates, he thinks that by declaring a hoax disengagement with North Korea and engaging with South Korea, he will win back favors from the West. There is no doubt Museveni will secretly continue to to get military aid from North Korea. South Korea only needs to watch its back. Watch the space!!!!!!!
INFORMATION IS POWER