Allied Democratic Forces
|Allied Democratic Forces|
Flag of the ADF
|Leaders||Jamil Mukulu (POW)|
|Allies||Lord's Resistance Army|
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a rebel group opposed to the Ugandan government and is considered a terrorist organisation. It was originally based in western Uganda with bases also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Since the late 1990s, the ADF has operated in the DRC's North Kivu province near the border with Uganda. While repeated military offensives against the ADF have severely affected it, the ADF has been able to regenerate because its recruitment and financial networks have remained intact.
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The ADF was formed by puritanical Muslim Ugandans of the Tablighi Jamaat group who merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). The main figure of the group was Jamil Mukulu, a former Protestant who converted to Islam. The members were largely from central Uganda, in particular Iganga, Masaka, and Kampala, and portray themselves as religious crusaders. Beyond this vaguely stated religious ideology and statements that the government discriminates against Tablighis, the ADF has given few coherent rationales for their insurgency. The ADF chose western Uganda apparently for three reasons: terrain that is ideal for a rural insurgency, proximity to the DRC where the rebels could set up bases and recruit fighters, and the presence of some Ugandan ethnic groups unfriendly to the government that could offer assistance. It received support from the government of Sudan, which was engaged in disputes with the government of Uganda.
2007 to 2008
During March 2007, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) engaged incursive ADF groups in multiple firefights, killing at least 46 in Bundibugyo and Mubende districts. The biggest battle occurred on March 27, when the UPDF faced an estimated 60 ADF troops and killed 34, including three senior commanders. The UPDF claimed to have retrieved numerous weapons as well as documents that tied the ADF to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Ceasefire and amnesty talks between the government of Uganda and the ADF were held in Nairobi starting in May 2008. Negotiations were complicated by the fragmentation of the ADF's leadership. Non-combatant dependents of the ADF were repatriated to Uganda by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least 48 ADF fighters surrendered and were given amnesty. As the threat from the LRA in the DRC waned, the UPDF put increasing focus on the ADF as a reason for UPDF personnel to remain in the DRC.
2013 resurgence and current situation
In April 2013, it was reported that ADF started a recruitment campaign in Kampala and other parts of the country. Citing a defector from ADF, AllAfrica.com reported that approximately ten new recruits joined ADF forces every day.
In July 2013, the ADF renewed its fighting in the Congolese district of Beni. According to the UN Radio Okapi, the ADF together with the NALU fought a pitched battle with the Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), briefly taking the towns of Mamundioma and Totolito. On 11 July, the ADF attacked the town of Kamango, triggering the flight of over 60,000 refugees across the border into the Ugandan district of Bundibugyo.
Early in September 2013, regional leaders under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) asked the recently formed combative United Nations Force Intervention Brigade under the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attack positions of foreign negative forces operating in the DRC, including the ADF. In late September 2013, 3 people were killed and 30 abducted during an ADF attack in the Watalinga Sector, North Kivu, DRC. Omar Kavota, the vice president and spokesman of the local civil society in North Kivu, condemned the abductions. According to the civil society, the abductees also included eight minors.
In January 2014, the FARDC launched a major offensive against ADF forces in Beni. By April, Mukulu and other senior leaders of the group fled their headquarters camp from approaching FARDC forces. The remaining ADF fighters– alongside women and children – retreated into the forest, where their numbers were significantly reduced in the following months as a result of starvation, desertion, and continued FARDC attacks.
As of November 2015, the number of attacks on Congolese forces continued, with weekly attacks of varying size taking place and killing more than 400 people in 2015, especially in the territories of Beni (North Kivu) and Irumu (Ituri).
The ADF have been blamed for the 2016 Beni massacre.
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- Yang, Fang (5 July 2013). "DR Congo gov't denounces Al-Shabaab presence in North Kivu". Xinhua. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Uganda army says troops kill 38 rebel fighters", Reuters, Mar 28, 2007
- UGANDA: IRIN Special Report on the ADF rebellion IRIN, 8 December 1999
- IDP numbers by the Global IDP Database
- Opportunities and Constraints for the Disarmament and Repatriation of Foreign Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (with link to report, PowerPoint and video of presentation by Hans Romkema and Steve Bradley) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, September 2007, in particular p. 12