Uganda this week entered a military co-operation agreement with a country it shares no border with – the Central African Republic (CAR).
Ugandan Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Vincent Ssempijja, is reported by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF) as saying the memorandum of understanding (MOU) “reiterated” his country’s commitment to the CAR military partnership.
“Uganda has always been committed to promoting peace and stability in the region and we strongly believe the best way to achieve this is through co-operation and collaboration with our neighbours. Our defence partnership with CAR is a testament to this commitment and we will continue to work together to ensure our region remains peaceful and prosperous,” he said following the signing in Kampala’s Naguru.
Landlocked CAR is bordered by Chad (north), Sudan (north-east), South Sudan (east), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (south), Congo Republic (south-west) and Cameroon (west).
Ssempijja commended the “unconditional support” from the CAR government during last year’s repatriation of ex-Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants from the Zemio and Mboki camps in the CAR. The UPDF Joint Chief of Staff, Major General Leopold Kyanda, referred to co-operation with the landlocked country as part of an African Union (AU) regional task force that was “crucial in degrading the LRA whose remnants have since renounced the rebellion”. Also on the LRA, CAR National Defence and Army Reconstruction Minister Claude Bireau thanked Uganda for its contribution during the “peak of LRA activities in CAR”.
He sees the focus of the military co-operation MOU as building operational capacity of the CAR Armed Forces (FACA or Forces armées centrafricaines). This is why the CAR plans to benchmark the professionalism of the UPDF, “a role model” according to Bireau.
The MOU signing follows an earlier one signed in 2017 which expired in 2022.