Saleh, Kayihura Congo gold deals cost Uganda trillions


General Salim Saleh (M) with UPDF top shots Gen Elly Tumwine (L) and Gen David Sejusa (R)

On 9 July 2015, by an Order dated 1 July 2015, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, decided to resume the proceedings in the case concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) with regard to the question of reparations.

The court fixed 6 January 2016 as the time-limit for the filing, by Congo of a memorial on the reparations which it considers to be owed to it by Uganda.

In the 19 December 2005 Judgment, the said Uganda was under obligation to make reparation to the DRC for the injury caused by Uganda’s violation of the principle of non-use of force in international relations and the principle of non-intervention, of obligations incumbent upon it under international human rights law and international humanitarian law and 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.


An estimated Shs166 trillion ($61 billion) had been paid out after Uganda and Rwanda occupied Congo under late DRC president Laurent Kabila, to nuetralise Hutu (Interahamwe) rebels.

In 1988, Uganda invaded Congo again and for almost four years occupied a sizeable territory in the name of stamping out rebel outfits, LRA and ADF, operating in the eastern region.

According to documents filed at the ICJ at The Hague, Netherlands, the occupation goes back to events of 1996-1997 during the struggle to overthrow the dictatorship of then Mobutu Sese Seko.

Uganda was compelled to compensate DRC a sum of Shs 27 trillion before Kinshasa revised the bill to Shs62.6 trillion ($23 billion).

Gold deals

The November 2012 UN Security Council Report on Congo, accused Kampala of supporting M23 rebels.

The report cited the military adviser to the President, Gen. Salim Saleh, and the Inspector General of Police, Lt Gen. Kale Kayihura, as coordinating with M23 rebels and trading Congolese gold through Uganda.

70 kg of gold was exported in 2012 through Kampala to United Arab Emirates.

Kayihura was then the Operational Commander of the UPDF forces in Ituri Province, where he headed the Anti-Smuggling Unit.

Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire who in the same year was cited in Shs1.8 billion Tanzania fake gold deals, between 1998 and 2001, he served as the political head of the Uganda Military Expedition into the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The report said Gold worth at least $400m was smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda and other East African countries in 2013.


The UN report accused the Kampala-backed M23 incursion of plundering Congo gold, timber, and 3T (tin, tungsten, and tantalum) as well as rape and massacres.

As history would have it, in 1965, Prime Minister Milton Obote and Amin were implicated in a deal to smuggle ivory and gold into Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The deal, as later alleged by General Nicholas Olenga, an associate of the former Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, was part of an arrangement to help troops opposed to the Congolese government trade ivory and gold for arms supplies secretly smuggled to them by Amin.

No punishment was meted out to Amin and similarly Kayihura and Saleh went scot-free after government dismissed the UN report.

Yet again, in May 2015, Enough Project, a Washington-based nongovernmental organisation, in its reported titled: “Congo’s Conflict Gold Rush: Bringing gold into the legal trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” mired Uganda once more in illicit gold trade.

Compiled by Fidel Bafilemba and Sasha Lezhnev, the report said illicit conflict gold supply chain moves mainly through Uganda and Burundi, where military officers allegedly also profit, and then much of the gold arrives in Dubai, a major global gold trading and refining hub that has its own smuggling loopholes.

Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, denied the allegations saying no officer was involved in Congo gold deals.

It will perhaps be the future generations to suffer the weight of the debts accrued by military officers.

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