The Democratic Republic of the Congo will allow armed forces from neighboring Uganda to enter its territory to drive out rebels accused of massacres in the region, sources told AFP on Sunday.
The deadliest of the armed groups operating in mineral-rich eastern DR Congo, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been blamed for dozens of attacks.
“President (Félix) Tshisekedi has already discussed the option of allowing Ugandan troops to enter Congolese territory to drive out ADF terrorists with” UN troops, a presidential adviser told AFP. on condition of anonymity.
“But Ugandan troops will not cross the border tonight or tomorrow. All the procedures must first be respected, in particular as regards the parliament and the military command of the DR Congo ”, he declared.
Antipas Mbusa Nyamuisi, local spokesperson for the Nande ethnic group, told AFP that the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces had received the “official” green light to track down ADF fighters on Congolese soil.
A European diplomat confirmed the news, telling AFP: “We have been informed through our usual channels that President Tshisekedi has authorized Ugandan troops to cross the border to fight the ADF.”
According to two diplomatic sources in Kampala, Ugandan forces are already preparing to deploy in eastern DRC to fight the ADF.
“Congolese and Ugandan officers are already working every day as part of the Joint Operations Center set up for the exchange of information,” a Congolese government source told AFP.
“We are happy because President Félix Tshisekedi kept his word, listening to the point of view of more than 80% of the population of Beni and its surroundings, direct victims of the abuses and massacres of the ADF”, he said. said, adding that the operation would only be a “temporary” response.
The two eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have been under “state of siege” since May, with the aim of stepping up a military offensive against the rebels, with soldiers replacing officials in key positions.
Asadho human rights group leader Jean-Claude Katende said the decision to allow Ugandan troops to enter was “an admission of failure” for the state of siege.
The ADF began in the 1990s as a coalition of Ugandan armed groups, the largest of which were Muslims, who opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
The ADF, which the United States formally linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, moved to eastern DRC in 1995, establishing itself in the Rwenzori Mountains in North Kivu.
In April 2019, ISIS began claiming some ADF attacks on social media, presenting the group as its regional arm.
The decision to allow Ugandan troops to enter the country does not suit many Congolese who resent the role played by their Ugandan and Rwandan neighbors over the past 30 years.
“If Ugandan troops enter the DRC, Rwanda will also send its own troops to our territory,” said Augustin Kambale, a resident of Beni. “And my fear is that the two countries will settle their scores again on our land.”
After 25 years of mass crimes & plundering of our resources by our neighbors, the President’s authorization to the UPDF & the militia. cooperative. with RDF is unacceptable. No to arsonists / firefighters, the same mistakes will produce the same tragic effects. Stand up Congolese, Nation in danger! https://t.co/UTju99N1iG
– Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) November 28, 2021 The Rwandan and Ugandan regular forces fought with light and heavy weapons in Kisangani, a major mining center in northeastern DRC in 2000, killing dozens and hundreds more. wounded.
UN agencies and humanitarian groups have repeatedly accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting armed groups operating in eastern DR Congo.
Uganda accused the ADF of at least two suicide bombings in November, and in early October Rwanda said it had arrested 13 ADF militants who it said were plotting attacks in the DRC.
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