WikiLeaks: Uganda feared Kenya PM might back opposition

Uganda believed Kenya’s prime minister might back pro-opposition groups to undermine the government in revenge for its stance on Kenya’s disputed 2007 election, a leaked cable from the U.S. Kampala embassy showed.

President Yoweri Museveni congratulated Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki soon after the election, angering Prime Minister Raila Odinga who said the election had been rigged to keep Kibaki in power. Kibaki and Odinga later formed a grand coalition government to end the weeks of violence that followed.

In a June 29, 2009 cable to Washington released by Wikileaks, Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye was reported to have told an embassy official that Odinga was also trying to intercede for the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, Joseph Kony.

Known for abducting young girls to serve as sex slaves and young boys to fight, the LRA fought Museveni’s government for nearly 20 years until 2005 when they were ejected from their bases in northern Uganda and South Sudan.

Kony was indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kulayigye, according to the cable, told an embassy official “that Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga may be making common cause with the Acholi opposition in Uganda and diaspora elements in Nairobi to advocate on behalf of LRA leader Joseph Kony.”

Odinga’s spokesman in Nairobi told Reuters that Odinga had described the cable’s contents relating to him as ‘far-fetched’.

Kulayigye said Odinga had also written to U.S. President Barack Obama, requesting that the U.S. stop its operations against the LRA. It has been giving logistical and intelligence support to the Ugandan army in its offensive against Kony, now in the Congo.

“Odinga, an ethnic Luo, reportedly is attempting to unite the Luo-speaking communities of western Kenya, southern Sudan, and northern Uganda,” the cable said. Kony is an Acholi, one of the Luo-speaking tribes of northern Uganda.

In a phone interview with Reuters, Kulayigye confirmed that he met a US embassy official in June last year but denied he made any accusations against Odinga.

“The name Raila Odinga did not come out of my mouth at any time during our meeting, that’s a total fabrication of Wikileaks,” he said.

During a visit to Uganda last week, Odinga joined Museveni at a campaign rally in the east. Museveni is seeking re-election in polls set for April next year. Reuters