The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: MP Asks Museveni to 'Come Clean' On Congo

Photo: UN Photo/A Burridge
Fleeing conflict (file photo).

President Museveni should explain the role Uganda is playing in the armed conflict between M23 rebels and DR Congo soldiers, lest he is perceived to have a hidden agenda, a legislator claimed yesterday. Addressing journalists at Parliament yesterday, Geoffrey Ekanya, the MP for Tororo county, said his sources in the United Nations Security Council had told him that Uganda is one of the countries rooting for the splitting of DR Congo, using the conflict in the eastern part of the country as justification.

The MP claimed that this plan could be tabled at the African Union summit meeting that kicks off tomorrow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. If these reports are untrue, Ekanya said, Museveni should come out with a detailed statement explaining the nature of Uganda's involvement in the Congo conflict.

"The conflict in DRC is going to cause problems for Uganda. Government was already aware of the bad situation but it has done nothing," Ekanya claimed.

Last week, after the M23 rebels captured Bunagana town, along the Uganda-Congo border, defeated Congolese soldiers sought sanctuary on the Ugandan side of the border, something that Kampala granted without consulting Kinshasa, according to Ekanya. Ekanya added that DR Congo is Uganda's key trade partner and the civil war has already jeopardised business between the two countries.

"Some businessmen told me they took out loans to supply goods to Congo. Now they are stranded and do not know what to do," he said.

Last week, Uganda deployed heavily along the common border to protect its territorial integrity. The government has also provided humanitarian assistance to the thousands of refugees flocking into the country.

However, overwhelmed, Kampala yesterday called for international help. The minister of state for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Refugees Musa Ecweru, told a media briefing yesterday that most of the refugees are women and unaccompanied children.

"These children just crossed the border and they don't know where their parents are," Ecweru said.

David Kazungu, the commissioner for Refugees, said Nyakabande transit centre, which acts as reception and screening centre, is currently hosting at least 16,350 refugees.

In order to ease the congestion at Nyakabande, some 2,500 refugees have been relocated to Rwamwanja settlement camp in Kamwenge district. Rwamwanja is already teaming with 13,600 Congolese refugees who fled to Uganda after last year's disputed presidential elections in the DR Congo.

Ecweru noted the risk of Ugandan children contracting communicable infections should they come into contact with Congolese children who are not routinely immunised.

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