The Journal of Modern African Studies

Explaining Ugandan intervention in Congo: evidence and interpretations 1

John F.  Clark  a1
a1 Associate Professor of International Relations at Florida International University, Miami, FL. Fulbright Visiting Lecturer at Makerere University during the 1999–2000 academic year.


This paper enquires into the reasons for Uganda's 1998 intervention in the recent Congo war, arguably the most important impediment to economic and political progress in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines a number of prominent arguments about the intervention, and determines that the Rwanda–Uganda alliance should be at the centre of a ‘thick description’ of the intervention. That is, the Uganda–Rwanda alliance was the key to President Museveni's initial decision in 1998, but other explanations contribute to our understanding of the intervention by providing information about its context, justification and permissive causes. Further, the paper suggests that Uganda's initial reasons for entering Congo differ from its reasons for remaining there after having failed to realise its initial goals.


1 The Author wishes to thank the Fulbright Scholars Program and all of the students and lecturers in the Department of Political Science, Makerere University. He further wishes to thank Professors M. Crawford Young, William Reno, Thomas Turner, John Holm, and three anonymous readers for their criticism and advice. None of the above are responsible for errors of fact or interpretation.