West Nile Bank Front
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|West Nile Bank Front|
|Active||1994 – ?|
|Headquarters||Morobo (until 1997)|
|Area of operations||Northern Uganda, southern Sudan, northeastern DR Congo|
|Split from||Uganda People's Democratic Army|
|Website||Insurgency in northern Uganda|
First Congo War
Second Sudanese Civil War
The WNBF began a campaign against President Yoweri Museveni in 1995. It appears to have been a West Nile offshoot of the Uganda People's Democratic Army and recruited primarily in Koboko County, Arua and Obongi, Moyo.
It was active up through the end of the First Congo War in 1997, fighting from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo against the Uganda People's Defense Force. The WNBF worked at destabilizing northern Uganda. It was responsible for many kidnappings and violent raids, and had similar goals and tactics to the Lord's Resistance Army. While it had initially recruited with promises of generous pay, which proved to be false, it eventually turned to forced recruitment to replenish its ranks. The brutal tactics of the WNBF, including the laying of landmines, made it lose popular support in the region. They were in competition for popular support with the rebel Uganda National Rescue Front II that was operating in the same region simultaneously.
- Seeing that the people didn’t support the war, my approach was to reach out to them and deny the enemy fertile ground to work on. So I had to combine a military approach with a political strategy... Rather than just sitting in the barracks, I decided to go out and spend time with the communities to work on calling the rebels back. It was very important that we never mistreated reporters (people who reported on rebel activity), so we built up trust.1
By working through local and traditional authority structures and enforcing a measured approach to the counter-insurgency, Wamala earned the trust of much of the populace and was able to arrange for numerous rebels to return to their former lives. This diplomatic initiative was coupled by military pressure upon WNBF bases in Southern Sudan by the Ugandan-backed Sudan People's Liberation Army. Amid Operation Thunderbolt (1997), the last WNBF bases in Sudan were destroyed at a major battle at Kaya in which the SPLA, UPDF and several Congolese armed groups took part, though some former members joined small rebel movements based in the DRC. By 1998 the WNBF as a group was no longer capable of significant activity.
- Faustin Mugabe (14 May 2016). "I was condemned for being 'Amin's' soldier". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- Robert Elema (3 March 2018). "Government agrees to pay veterans". West Nile Web. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- "Marching to Juba". Africa Confidential. 11 April 1997. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
- "Negotiating Peace: Resolution of Conflicts in Uganda's West Nile Region" (PDF). Refugee Law Project. Refugee Law Project Working Paper No. 12: 14. June 2004.
- Negotiating Peace: Resolution of Conflicts in Uganda’s West Nile Region(PDF) offers an overview of rebel activity in the West Nile, including the genesis of the WNBF