Gov't to Start Paying Ex-Rebels

Next week, the government will initiate the disbursement of funds amounting to Shs5.1 billion to former members of the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). State Minister for Defense overseeing veteran affairs, Abason Huda Oleru, announced on Friday that the cabinet, during its session on April 25, 2024, sanctioned the allocation for ex-WNBF combatants under the command of Maj. Gen. Juma Oris Abdallah.

Oleru disclosed, "A verified list comprising 4901 ex-combatants has been endorsed for payment, utilizing a budget of Shs5.1 billion sourced from the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs' financial allocation for the fiscal year 2023-2024. Consequently, the official disbursement will be inaugurated in Koboko on May 8." She added that the event would be overseen by Senior Presidential Advisor on Defense, Gen. Salim Saleh.

Originating from former Uganda Army soldiers loyal to Idi Amin, the WNBF, led by Maj. Gen. Juma Oris Abdallah, wreaked havoc in West Nile, engaging in hostilities against the UPDF from Sudan (now South Sudan) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo until their defeat in 1997.

The group was notorious for kidnappings, violent raids, and deploying landmines resulting in casualties. Following their defeat in 1997, the WNBF's bases in Sudan were obliterated in a significant clash at Kaya, involving the SPLA, UPDF, and various Congolese armed factions, which left their leader, Juma Oris, wounded, leading to the group's fragmentation.

The government had pledged a resettlement package for ex-combatants, with Minister Oleru confirming that the initial step towards fulfilling this commitment began with mobilizing ex-combatants in West Nile districts. A total of 4901 ex-combatants were verified for payment, with provisions made for beneficiaries of deceased members. Minister Oleru emphasized the importance of family consensus in determining the recipients.

Oleru expressed hope that the commencement of these payments would quell unrest in the West Nile region, enabling residents to focus on economic prosperity.

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