UPDF Dismisses Report Accusing it of Funding Tigray Rebels

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have dismissed a report that is circulating in Ethiopian media claiming that Uganda is funding Tigray rebels to overthrow the Ethiopian government.

An alleged leaked intelligence report has been in the Ethiopia media since May claiming that Uganda is training Tigray rebels in Karamoja Sub-region and also channeling funding to rebels through South Sudan.

However, the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Felix Kulayigye, yesterday said the report is “a total fabrication”.

“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. [Secondly], a one James Kabarebe has never been a Minister of Defence in Uganda. Thirdly, Uganda’s ambassador to S. Sudan has never met the alleged Gen Akol Koor.

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The two have never met, and don’t know each other,” Brig Kulayigye tweeted yesterday.

The report came months after the UPDF Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, tweeted statements in support of the Tigray rebels and accused 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.

In May, the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, 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.

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“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.

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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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