Uganda announces the immediate deployment of soldiers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Nairobi, 23 November. Uganda’s armed forces spokesman, Felix Kulaygi, told EFE today that the Ugandan army will send a new contingent of soldiers to neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this month as part of a regional force to fight rebel groups.

“Uganda will deploy a battalion to the DRC as part of the East African Cluster (EAC) Intervention Force,” Kulayji told EFE.

“This deployment will take place at the end of November,” the Ugandan army spokesman added.

Kulaygi declined to confirm how many troops the Ugandan contingent would have in the DRC.

The Ugandan soldiers will join soldiers from Kenya and Burundi, who have already been deployed to eastern DRC to form part of a new East African Cluster regional military force approved by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in early December.

The regional military force aims to fight over a hundred armed groups operating in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ensure peace.

Uganda’s potential participation in this regional force has sparked a lot of controversy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where part of the Congolese parliament has accused the Ugandan army of collaborating with the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23), a group that is engaged in heavy fighting and has taken control of several cities in the east of the country.

Ugandan Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello responded earlier this month: “These accusations are false. It is nonsense, nonsense. There is no evidence.”

The DRC government also accuses Rwanda of supporting the March 23 Movement, a point Kigali has always denied, which led to an escalation of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

However, a confidential report of United Nations experts leaked in early August confirmed this cooperation.

The Ugandan army has been present in eastern DRC since November 2021, when the Congolese and Ugandan armed forces began a joint operation that is still ongoing against the ADF rebels, a group of Ugandan origin.

However, these soldiers are not part of the regional force of the East African Community, which has been promoted since last April by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Since 1998, eastern DRC has been mired in conflict fueled by rebel militias and attacks by army soldiers, despite the presence of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), with some 17,800 troops on the ground.

The absence of alternatives and stable livelihoods has prompted thousands of Congolese to take up arms, and according to the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), eastern DRC is a battleground for more than 120 rebel groups. EFE

pm/cg

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