President Museveni stated that the ADF rebel group has been vanquished, and the recent assaults, such as the attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese and others in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are desperate acts of a weakened entity.
While addressing the nation about the prevailing security situation, the president emphasized that the group has been significantly weakened.
Museveni remarked, “If you want to be a combatant, you target a military base, a police outpost, or armed troops on the move. Although it is illegal, in such cases, you are considered a rebel or an insurgent rather than a terrorist. Therefore, attacking unarmed individuals, like the Kasese School incident, does not demonstrate strength; it reveals that the ADF was defeated long ago.”
“ADF’s assault on a school does not indicate their growing power. Attacking children cannot be seen as strength; it actually confirms that the ADF was defeated long ago. By committing such acts, they are already defeated. They can only attack unarmed civilians because they are unable to confront armed opponents. Their sole targets are the defenseless. This weakness is not a sign of strength,” he added.
In the recent attack on a secondary school in Kasese, the ADF rebels arrived at night, killing a security guard before setting fire to the boys’ and girls’ dormitories and capturing their occupants.
In total, over 40 students lost their lives, while a small number were taken hostage and forced to carry the looted food supplies.
During his address, President Museveni asserted that despite the attack, the ADF had already been defeated long ago.
He explained that the ADF was established in the early 1990s and launched its first attack on Uganda at the Mpondwe customs post in Bwera town. With support from DRC President Mobutu and Sudan’s Omar Bashir, a group of 1200 ADF fighters managed to capture Mpondwe, resulting in the death of over 50 people.
“Their objective was to capture Mpondwe, which they achieved for a brief period, and then proceed to seize Kasese Airstrip, enabling Bashir to provide them with weapons. In coordination with Kony in the North, their plan was to advance to Kampala and overthrow the NRM government. However, the ADF was halted by the small forces near Mpondwe and contained there. After a few days, the UPDF launched a massive counter-attack,” Museveni revealed.
The president stated that as a result, 400 ADF fighters were killed and the group was dispersed.
Unable to achieve their goals, the ADF shifted their tactics to predominantly rural terrorism, targeting unarmed civilians. In response, Uganda had to establish counter-terrorism capabilities to prevent the ADF from gaining power, controlling parts of the country, interfering with human settlements, and displacing people into IDP camps.
“These individuals can no longer operate in large groups because we defeated them long ago. They understand that forming groups will lead to their demise,” Museveni affirmed.
He recounted another unsuccessful ADF attack in 2007 when 100 rebels crossed into Uganda from Congo, but 87 of them were killed by UPDF commandos in Semliki National Park.
Since then, the rebels have resorted to operating in small groups.
“Their strategy shifted to deploying individuals who would plant bombs. They planted 34 bombs, but we managed to apprehend or eliminate all those involved in Uganda. They can no longer send groups or individuals. We have eradicated the ADF from Uganda, and they are now in Congo. They can no longer infiltrate as groups. Regardless of their size, we will defeat anyone who wages war against us,” Museveni declared.
The president attributed Uganda’s success in defeating the rebels and other destabilizing groups to strong intelligence services employing human and technical resources to detect and locate enemies within the country’s borders, political unity, a robust military, and cooperation with neighboring nations.
“This is how the NRM has transformed Uganda into a peaceful haven in the region, where we no longer generate refugees but instead receive the highest number of refugees in Africa, ranking third globally with 1.53 million refugees currently residing in Uganda,” he highlighted.
Museveni, however, dismissed calls from certain leaders to close the border with the DRC as a means of preventing the rebels from crossing into the country.
“Closing the border is not an option. How will people enter Uganda? Numerous individuals cross the border at various points. It’s like cutting off your own toe when there’s a jigger infestation. No, the NRM addresses the jigger problem while preserving the toe. We will crush the ADF,” he affirmed.
Nonetheless, the president stressed the importance of vigilance among security agencies and mentioned an executive order mandating the presence of 18 police officers per sub-county, some equipped with motorcycles to respond to distress calls.
“I arrived at the number 18 because I wanted 12 to be regular armed police officers, while the remaining 6 would handle CID duties and other tasks. One squad of four officers should be on standby, ready to move immediately to the scene of any incident. They should be fully equipped, armed, motorcycles fueled, and prepared to act promptly,” he explained.
This approach solves the problem of leaving police stations vulnerable to surprise attacks due to unpreparedness.
“Additionally, they will be ready to respond without delay. Another squad should be deployed to guard the station while the third squad rests. They will rotate every 8 hours,” Museveni concluded.