The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has been urging President Museveni to outline how Uganda will profit from the UPDF’s deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Col. Michael Walaka Hyeroba and 5,000 UPDF soldiers were flagged off last week for the mission in the dangerous Rutshuru area in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a statement made by President Museveni a day after the deployment, the UPDF will fight a party in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that refuses to implement or abide by the peace deal that the leaders of the East African Community (EAC) signed.
Speaking to reporters at their Najjanankumbi offices, the deputy spokesperson, Mr. John Kikonyogo, stated that Museveni had indicated that the UPDF had deployed to stabilize several regions in the Congo, especially in Goma.
Mr. Kikonyogo stated that the nation must keep in mind that Mr. Museveni and a few senior UPDF commanders were brought before the International Court of Justice for allegedly plundering resources from the DRC between 1997 and 1998. Congo prevailed in the legal dispute, and the court ordered Uganda to pay them Shs1.1 trillion ($325 million).
According to him, around Shs 90 billion was spent on Operation Shuja. That was an operation that wasn’t approved by Parliament, and the nation had no benefits. The mission simply cost Uganda money and resulted in debt accumulation.
Mr. Kikonyongo demanded from the parliament how Uganda benefits from these soldiers’ deployments in the Congo, particularly because Uganda spends public money each year to send and keep these unauthorized troops there.
Angola had sent 500 soldiers to the same area two weeks before Uganda’s deployment. But, President Museveni said this past week that with the approval of the EAC heads of state, Uganda would deploy force if one of the parties refuses to implement the peace agreement they have agreed on. The Ugandan troops will serve as observers.
In his statement, President Museveni made sure to emphasize that the UPDF’s presence in the Bungana-Rutshuru region is not meant to fight the M23, but to operate as a neutral force as the Congolese take the time to sort out their political difficulties. President Museveni emphasized that his administration would not fight unless it was attacked.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) launched a military operation into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2021. According to legislators, Mr. Museveni failed to obtain the consent of Parliament as required by the Constitution.
Although the EAC force was first welcomed with excitement. Many Congolese is growingly skeptical of it due to disappointed expectations that regional troops will directly confront the M23.
The newly deployed Ugandan troops spokesman, Captain Kato Ahmad Hassan, stated on Sunday that the troops will be a neutral force and will not attack the M23.
According to the plan, he claimed, M23 rebels are supposed to leave the territory that the Ugandan military has taken over. Goma, which borders Rwanda to its east and Lake Kivu to its south, is virtually entirely encircled by the rebel group, which continues to have significant authority over parts of North Kivu.
The United States and independent UN experts concur that Rwanda has been supporting the M23. The DRC also accuses its smaller neighbor Burundi of doing the same.
The Congolese army and the M23 have not engaged in significant combat for some weeks, but there has been fighting with other militias, and insecurity is still prevalent.
According to locals, government officials, and media sources, 14 individuals were killed over the weekend in separate incidents in North Kivu under circumstances that are still unknown.
The UPDF flagged off about 5,000 soldiers for a peace mission in the North Kivu of DRC last week.
According to its authorities, the soldiers are not traveling to the Congo to fight any particular group, but rather to carry out the decisions made by the leaders of East Africa regarding the institution of peace in North Kivu.
Looking into the background of the mission, the fighting broke out between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces in March of last year. It was started when the former took over several locations in the Rutshuru region in North Kivu, including the Bunagana and Kitagoma border checkpoints with Uganda in the Kisoro District.
More than 700,000 Congolese refugees have also fled the area for safety to Kisoro due to the conflict. Some were transferred to the camps for refugees in western Uganda.
Later, local officials made a plea to the government for a peace mission agreement. The authorities included Mr. Abubakari Nikwegye, chairman of Buganaga Main Village, and Mr. Abel Bizimana, chairwoman of Kisoro.
Almost one week after the deployment of the UPDF, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) urged President Museveni to explain how the deployment would benefit the nation.