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UPDF denies report on funding Tigray rebels to overthrow Ethiopian gov’t

Speaking on behalf of the national army, Brig Felix Kulayigye has dismissed the allegations which he labeled as “a total fabrication” against the Ugandan force.

UPDF spokesperson Brig Felix Kulayigye has dismissed the claims by the Ethiopian media (Photo/File)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson Brig. Felix Kulayigye has dismissed allegations of the Ugandan government funding Tigray rebels to overthrow the Ethiopian government.

Since May this year, a leaked intelligence report dubbed; First Forward xxx2xxx has been circulating in the Ethiopia media alleging that Uganda is behind the Tigray rebels that have for long been terrorizing the current government in Ethiopia to have it overthrown. The intelligence report further disclosed that UPDF trains these rebels in Karamoja Sub-region and funds them through South Sudan.

However, speaking on behalf of the national army, Brig Felix Kulayigye has dismissed the allegations which he labeled as “a total fabrication” against the Ugandan force.

“The so-called report on alleged attempts to destabilise Ethiopia is a total fabrication that exposes the author’s ignorance of simple and basic facts; First, Uganda does not border Ethiopia as the author claims,” Kulayigye said through a tweet on Sunday,

He also clarified that one James Kabarebe who appears in the so-called report has never been a Minister of Defence in Uganda and also, Uganda’s ambassador to S. Sudan and has never met the alleged Gen Akol Koor.

The report came months after Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the UPDF Commander of Land Forces said months ago in one of his tweets showing support for the Tigray rebels and accusing the Ethiopian government of carrying out rights abuses.

Several Ugandan diplomats, including Ms. Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of UNAIDS and an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, warned that Lt Gen Muhoozi’s comments put the lives of Ugandans working in Ethiopia and the region at risk.

According to local publication DailyMonitor, the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Mr Vincent Ssempijja in early May flew to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and met with the chief of Ethiopian Defence Forces, Field Marshal Birhanu Jula. The duo discussed security matters, including the alleged report.

“The two sides also discussed the recent story circulating over social media about the TPLF (The Tigray People’s Liberation Front) connections with Uganda. The Ugandan Defence minister downplayed the allegations that the terrorist group was receiving training in Uganda with the support of the United States, Egypt and South Sudan,” the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs statement issued on May 13 read in part. 

Mr Ssempijja is quoted to have said that they view Ethiopia as the mother of Africa, and that “any anti-Ethiopian force will never operate in Uganda.”

On May 17, Defence minister Vincent Ssempijja, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Wilson Mbadi Mbasu, Uganda defence attaché to Ethiopia, Col Fred Zaakye, met Field Marshal Birhanu Jula in Ethiopia to iron out the issues related to the said report.

Two weeks later, another meeting, which was attended by Mr Ssempijja, the Ethiopian ambassador Alemtsehay Meseret, Ethiopian military officers, and UPDF’s top intelligence and legal officers, was held at the Defence ministry headquarters at Mbuya. The two parties agreed to strengthen ties between the two countries. 

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