Ugandan Islamists no threat to oil region: Museveni

Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:50pm GMT

* President says army on "full alert" against ADF

* Uganda to hold national elections on Feb 18

By Barry Malone

KAMPALA, January 10 (Reuters) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has dismissed threats from Islamist rebels reported to be regrouping near the country's developing oil fields, the government said on Monday.

The Allied Defence Forces (ADF) were driven out of Uganda into the dense jungle of neig`bouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a violent campaign in the late 1990s, during which it bombed capital Kampala several times.

"The government is fully aware of the presence of the remnants of the ADF in Eastern DRC but (Museveni) said the Uganda People's Defence Forces was on full alert to deal with them if they attempt to enter Uganda," the statement said.

Uganda discovered commercial quantities of hydrocarbons in the Lake Albert rift basin along its western border with DRC in 2006.

Exploration firms, including Tullow Oil, estimate reserves of up to 2.5 billion barrels and commercial production is expected to start in 2012.

A United Nations Group of Experts report in November claimed a London-based Muslim cleric, Jamil Mukulu, was now funding the ADF's estimated 600 fighters and had become its de-facto leader.

The experts said the ADF set up training bases for urban warfare and terrorist tactics in 2006 and its troops were trained by Moroccans and Pakistanis in the last two years, noting unconfirmed helicopter sightings in its territory.

Senior Ugandan military officials in May described the ADF as regrouping in DRC near the Ugandan border -- close to where oil companies are working.

POLL CONCERNS

"We have a very strong force and the ADF are aware. The last time they came to Semliki they were 100 and 87 were killed (and) only 13 escaped back to Congo," the statement said Museveni told border residents at an election rally.

"For you as citizens, do your part, vote wisely and leave the rest to us."

The president described the army as on "full alert" against the rebels.

Uganda is due to hold elections on February 18, seen as a test of democracy for the country. Museveni, 65 and in power since 1986, could face his stiffest cha

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