KAMPALA, Uganda – Ugandan officials said Wednesday that a fresh allegation by Sudan that Uganda supports anti-Sudan rebels is a tactic to divert attention from Uganda's claim that Sudan is sheltering warlord Joseph Kony.
James Mugume, permanent secretary at Uganda's Foreign Affairs Ministry, said a formal complaint was made this week by the Sudanese embassy in Uganda.
"It's mere rhetoric," Mugume said. "We have asked the Sudanese to send us a team which we can discuss with. Let them send a team here with clear allegations, with proof that we can deal with."
Ugandan army spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye said Sudan's allegation was an effort to get even with Uganda, where diplomats and security officials are increasingly accusing Khartoum of renewing its support for Kony's brutal Lord's Resistance Army.
"We kept quiet until we got human intelligence that Khartoum was again supporting the LRA," Kulayigye said. "They are the ones who have an agenda. They have not produced any evidence."
Ugandan officials now say Kony is no longer hiding in the Central African Republic, where Ugandan troops have been hunting for him since 2009. They cite as evidence the account of a captured LRA rebel who wore a new uniform he said was supplied by Sudan.
U.S. President Barack Obama sent 100 U.S. forces into Central Africa last year to help regional militaries track Kony, and an online campaign this year by the advocacy group Invisible Children made Kony a YouTube sensation.
Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, overall commander of the Ugandan army, told a meeting of regional chiefs last month that Uganda would "not sit back" and do nothing if South Sudan and Sudan went to war over an unresolved border conflict.
Uganda has long accused Khartoum of supporting the LRA in retaliation for Kampala's support for the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the southern rebel movement that is now the South Sudan military.
Sudan denies ever supporting Kony.
Some analysts believe Sudan is making the allegation against Uganda to avoid losing a propaganda war.
"The counterclaim is to tie Uganda's hands in the diplomatic game and in the rhetoric," said Angelo Izama, a Kampala-based political analyst with the security think tank Fanaka Kwawote. "This is important for Khartoum because it makes sure that Uganda does not take the moral high ground."