Two of the four countries named this week in a cease-fire agreement as providing peace-keeping forces for Uganda said today that they are reluctant and unlikely to send soldiers into the war-torn country.
The peace agreement, in which the government of Uganda agreed Tuesday to share power with the rebel National Resistance Army, said that soldiers from Kenya, Tanzania, Britain and Canada would be invited into Uganda as a "monitoring observer force." They are to supervise the cease-fire and the disarming of the country's various armies, according to the agreement.
Britain, however, has ruled out any such role.
"There is no question of British involvement in peace-keeping, monitoring or observing in Uganda regardless of the what the peace agreement says," said Richard Tauwhare, a spokesman for the British High Commission, or embassy, in Nairobi.
Canada has not made a final decision yet on whether it will participate. But Ann Cronin Cossette, a spokeswoman for the Canadian High Commission, said that "the likelihood of our taking part in any large-scale peace-keeping force is quite low. Up to now our commitment to Uganda has been quite small."
Both British and Canadian diplomats said they were surprised and annoyed to discover that the peace agreement mentioned their countries as contributing to the peace-keeping force. Both said that in private talks with the Ugandans before Tuesday's agreement was announced they had begged off any such formal participation.
"We thought we had made it clear that we didn't want to be involved," said Tauwhare, "but they seemed to have gone ahead and shoved our name in on the peace-keeping role."
"I don't know why they would put us in the agreement without getting our approval," Cossette said.
Kenya and Tanzania have agreed to send soldiers to Uganda when the newly reconstituted government makes a formal request.
Tuesday's agreement, signed by Gen. Tito Okello, head of Uganda's military government, and Yoweri Museveni, leader of the National Resistance Army, ended nearly four months of negotiations here in Nairobi. During that time, civil war between the rebels and the government had paralyzed the country's economy and triggered widespread killing, rape and looting. The fighting, in which rebels seized about one-third of the country, started soon after a coup brought down the government of Milton Obote in July.
Reports from the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said that heavy gunfire broke out last night. Diplomats there told United Press International that the shooting appeared to be between government soldiers and guerrilla units made up of soldiers who served under ousted dictator Idi Amin. The diplomats said the shooting broke out when the guerrillas refused to turn over their arms to the Army.
The peace agreement calls for the formation of a new national army, made up of 3,700 troops from the existing Army, 3,580 soldiers from the National Resistance Army rebel force, and 1,200 soldiers from four other guerrilla groups.
At the British High Commission here, Tauwhare said Uganda remains "too dangerous" for the British to commit any large contingent of soldiers. He said that his government would provide a limited number of officers to train a new Ugandan army, if and when it is created.
"The fact that they have signed the agreement doesn't mean the civil war will end overnight," said Tauwhare. "Until it is clear that the war is over, we will leave the Ugandans to sort out their own problems."