Congo claims it must battle a common enemy with Uganda as troops enter the border.
Congolese officials attempted to assuage fears on Wednesday about the deployment of Ugandan soldiers in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for a combined operation against an Islamic State-linked militia.
Hundreds of Ugandan troops were seen entering Congo as both nations sent special forces to seize Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia positions that they had pounded with air and artillery attacks the day before. more info
According to government spokesman Patrick Muyaya, the nations are working together to combat a shared foe. Since 2019, the ADF has been accused of murdering hundreds of people in eastern Congo and carrying out a series of recent bombs in Uganda.
“We realize it is an operation that some of our fellow countrymen have legitimate concerns about,” he said at a press conference in Kinshasa. “Both us and Uganda are obligated to act in concert.”
The plan has sparked concern in both capitals due to the Ugandan army’s actions during the Congo’s 1998-2003 civil war, for which Kinshasa is demanding billions of dollars in reparations. The sum has been dubbed “ruinous” by Uganda. more info
Army spokesperson Leon-Richard Kasonga refused to reveal how many Ugandan soldiers were in Congo, how long the joint operation would run, or how much the ADF had paid.
“Patience,” he advised the briefing attendees. “We’ve just begun.”
President Felix Tshisekedi has been pleading with his neighbors for assistance for months. According to a parliamentary study, his own attempts to halt decades of carnage in Congo’s east have been thwarted by bad planning, corruption, and inadequate finance. more info
“I just saw 30 trucks carrying Ugandan military enter Congo. I also saw two tanks “Blaise Bokassa, a Nobili inhabitant, said Another witness, a human rights activist, said that he saw “several cars with hundreds of Ugandan military.”
A Ugandan army official said she couldn’t respond right away.
The International Crisis Group’s Nelleke Van de Walle said the operation looked to be more ambitious than the previous time Uganda fought the ADF in Congo, in 2017 when it claimed to have killed 100 rebels in airstrikes.
According to Ugandan opposition legislator Joel Ssenyonyi, the administration should have obtained legislative approval for the deployment.
“We are concerned that we may see the same illicit behaviors that occurred during the last deployment, such as the theft of gold and other valuables.”
In 2019, the ADF, which began as an insurgency in Uganda but has been headquartered in Congo since the late 1990s, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. However, no proof of Islamic State influence over ADF activities has been discovered by UN experts.