Uganda to lay off 15,000 soldiers at a cost of $21m


THE EASTAFRICAN, JULY 25 2005 - Uganda plans to lay off an estimated 15,300 soldiers by the end of next year using a $500 million fund from various donors set aside for military demobilisation in seven African countries.

In the past five months, the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) has sent home at least 2,500 soldiers, according to figures provided last month by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence to the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme (MDRP) administered by the World Bank.

A United Nations meeting on the Great Lakes Region held in Lusaka last week was told that between 2002 and 2004, Uganda retired more than 6,500 soldiers. This year's demobilisation figures are in addition to the 36,357 soldiers whom the UPDF laid off between 1992 and 1995.

By comparison, Rwanda has laid off 53,426 soldiers since 1997 and has lined up about 12,000 others for retrenchment, according to information Kigali has given to the MDRP and UN officials. Rwanda joined the programme in 2002 and Uganda came on board last February.