KAMPALA – The DR Congo government has tabled a demand for billions in dollars from Uganda – as a settlement for what it termed as ‘barbarity’ in the 1998-2003 war.
The claims were tabled before the UN’s top court, early this week; as Kampala told the International Court of Justice – ICJ that the suffering of the war that ended about 20 years ago, was disproportionate and ‘ruining us.’
At the hearing at The Hague-based court on Tuesday, Uganda’s Attorney General William Byaruhanga rejected Kinshasa ‘staggering’ demands.
“As a matter of international law, and state practice, Uganda considered the DRC’s unbending demands to be both unfounded and excessive in the extreme. So the parties again stand before this court. What has changed after the DRC revived the case? Nothing except that that the DRC reduced its demand from roughly $23.5 to almost $13.5 billion. This significant drop only confirms that the DRC’s claims are rooted in tactics, not reality,” Byaruhanga told the ICJ panel of judges.
The ICJ had ruled in 2005 that Uganda had to pay Kinshasa reparations for invading its territory during the war that is said to have left three million people dead.
The court, has to take its final ruling on the amount of compensation Kampala has to part with after both countries failed to strike a deal through negotiations.
“The armed conflict led by Uganda was very large scale. A five-year occupation followed by very serious breaches of human rights that were verging on barbarity,” the DRC’s legal agent Paul-Crispin Kakhozi Bin-Bulongo told the court.
Back then, Congolese officials said the compensation from Kampala would be between $6 -$10 billion.
They had expected Uganda to; “fully assume its responsibility for the injury caused and a substantial contribution,’ but that had not happened in the end, added Bin-Bulongo.
Kinshasa filed a new application in 2015, asking the 75-year-old world court to reopen the case and to make a finding on reparations after negotiations had failed.
The Hague, in its 2005 ruling, had also said that Uganda was also entitled to compensation after its embassy in Kinshasa was attacked and diplomats abused.
The conflict at it its height drew in some nine African countries, with Uganda and Rwanda backing rebel forces against the Kinshasa government as they jostled for control of the mineral-rich Ituri region.