Justify why UPDF is deployed in DR Congo – FDC to government

Justify why UPDF is deployed in DR Congo – FDC to government

By Wod Omoro

Kampala – The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has tasked president Museveni and Parliament to explain how Uganda will benefit from the deployment of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Last week UPDF soldiers led by Col. Michael Walaka Hyeroba were flagged off for the mission in the troubled Rutshuru territory in North Kivu in DRC.

Speaking to journalists from their offices in Kampala, the deputy party spokesperson, John Kikonyogo said that the country needs to remember that president Museveni and some senior UPDF officers were taken to the International Court of Justice for stealing from Congo’s resources between 1997 and 1998.

“It is in our knowledge that Mr. Museveni has deployed troops to Congo. This is witnessed in a statement released on 29th of March 2023, confirming that the commander Land Forces flagged off UPDF deployment to Congo. In his statement, he says UPDF has gone to stabilise some parts of Congo, specifically Goma,” Kikonyogo said. 

“Congo won the court case and we are required to pay for the minerals that we stole from Congo. The court ruled that we pay Congo USD325m (aboutShs1.1t). In 2022, over Shs90b was spent on Operation Shuja, an operation that was never sanctioned by Uganda and with no clear benefits but only led to losses to Uganda hence leading to accumulated debts,” he added.

Kikonyogo warned that Uganda is headed for collapse in the hands of president Museveni unless citizens rise up and stop these reckless expenditures as soon as possible.

“We demand to hear from Parliament, how does Uganda benefit from these deployments in Congo, especially after the country annually spends taxpayers’ money to deploy and maintain these illegal troops in Congo,” he said.

President Museveni in a statement he issued a day after the deployment explained circumstances under which Uganda deployed troops under the East African Regional Force to eastern DRC.

The president, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces, said the deployment of 1000 troops by Uganda is not to engage but rather maintain peace in DRC.

“We are not going to battle or fight the M23. The Congo government and the M23, have agreed to a peace plan, which involves cessation of hostilities (fighting), withdrawal of the M-23 from some of the specified areas they had captured to other areas that have been agreed upon,” Museveni said.

He noted that peace talks have been ongoing between the M23 rebels and the DRC government, noting that they should continue so that the problem is solved politically for peace to return to eastern DRC.

“Our initial mission, therefore, is to occupy some of the positions that the M23 has handed over to the East African Force as a neutral force, instead of the Congolese army which the M23 see as enemies or armed opponents in their internal politics.”

According to the plan of the East African Regional Force, Ugandan troops will be deployed in Bunagana and Rushturu in North Kivu.These areas are where the M23 have previously operated and had controlled big chunks of territory.

Museveni said the Ugandan troops will not attack anyone unless they are attacked.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the militia, which stems from the long fallout from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Kigali repeatedly denies supporting M23 and the armed group maintains it does not receive Rwandan support.

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