The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government has described as “premature” the call to withdraw Ugandan troops in the east, where they are battling the ADF rebel group. Kinshasa says such a decision that has already been made by Ugandan military officers, is the prerogative of the presidents of the two neighbouring countries.
In a tweet, the head of the Ugandan army, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, said that the operation launched jointly with the Congolese army at the end of November to fight the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels was to last six months and would therefore end on May 31 unless otherwise instructed.
However, in a second message on Twitter, he then clarified that the operation “will continue even for another six months if both Presidents Museveni and Tshisekedi decided to extend it.
Ugandan Defence Minister Vincent Ssempijja confirmed that “the bilateral agreement with the DRC” on this operation “ends on May 31.”
“The reasons that motivated the military cooperation between the Congolese army and the Ugandan army were dictated by a common threat – that of the ADF – which we must fight as we fight terrorists everywhere, in a joint manner and in synergy,” recalled the Congolese Minister of Communication and Government Spokesman Patrick Muyaya during a briefing on the situation in Ituri.
Ituri and North Kivu are the two eastern provinces of the DRC where the ADF, among dozens of other armed groups, are active, accused of having massacred thousands of civilians in the DRC and committed jihadist attacks in Uganda.
“After six months, there has certainly been progress,” Muyaya said. “But before deciding to end what was agreed upon, there must be staff meetings, which must assess the degree of progress against the initial objectives.”
- An AFP / Tell report