Uganda tense as Obote rivals turn to Libya for arms; But nation slowly rebuilds after the long nightmare of the Idi Amin years
Uganda military authorities seem convinced that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is supplying arms to opponents of President Milton Obote.
Arms captured after a Feb. 23 attack on the Lubiri barracks in Kampala bear Arabic inscriptions.
The only Arab leader known to be hostile to President Obote is Qaddafi, who was one of the principal backers of Idi Amin, Uganda's dictator from 1971 until his overthrow in April 1979. In a last-minute attempt to thwart the coup against Amin, 1,500 Libyan soldiers were sent to Uganda. Many of them were killed or taken prisoner.
Amin was given asylum in Tripoli, but when his bodyguards were linked to the murders of several Libyans, Qaddafi arranged for his removal to Saudi Arabia.
Qaddafi has in recent months received a number of Obote's opponents: Among them are Andrew Kayiira, a supporter of Yusuf Lule, Uganda's interim president for a few months after Amin's ouster; and Yoweri Museveni, leader of the so-called Uganda Patriotic Movement.
Both Kayiira and Museveni are committed to overthrowing Obote, whom they accuse of rigging the December 1980 election that restored him to the presidency; it was Obote whom Amin ousted in 1970. Museveni lost his deposit when he was a candidate in those same 1980 elections.
A self-styled Marxist (though not regarded as such by other Ugandans who call themselves Marxists), Museveni fought with Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) forces in Mozambique. After Obote's victory, Museveni turned for support to President Samora Machel, but the Mozambican leader angrily rejected his overtures.
Museveni appears to have had more success in Tripoli, where Qaddafi is still smarting from his Uganda ventures.
Qaddafi is undoubtedly angry because President Obote is among the African leaders who have announced they will stay away from next year's summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity in Tripoli.
Political observers expect President Obote to lodge a formal complaint with the OAU concerning the Libyan leader's alleged involvement in violence in Uganda. The OAU charter forbids African heads of state from interfering in the internal affairs of the organization's member-states.
Although Obote's opponents describe their operations as ''a guerrilla campaign,'' their operating tactics more closely resemble the maneuvers of the Provisional wing of the illegal Irish Republican Army in North Ireland. Until the recent mass attack on the Lubiri barracks, they had engaged mainly in laying ambushes and making hit-and-run attacks.