The Ugandan military on Friday appealed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to allow it cross into its territory to hunt down the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group operating in the eastern part of the vast central African country.
Capt. Peter Mugisha, the second division army spokesman, told Xinhua by telephone that with the current turmoil in eastern DRC after the M23 rebels overran the Congolese military, the ADF is likely to take advantage of the situation. "With the problems the Congolese government currently has with M23 rebels and ineffective administration in eastern DRC, we believe they can't manage to defeat ADF. They must accept us to join them to eliminate this terrorist group with the links to al Qaida," said Mugisha. "We are calling upon the Congolese authorities to cooperate with us to uproot the ADF. They are not only a threat to Uganda but to them and the whole region," he said.
The call comes barely a week after M23 rebels overran several army units in North Kivu Province, forcing over 600 Congolese soldiers and thousands of refugees to flee into western Uganda. At least over 16,000 Congolese refugees have been forced into western Uganda as the result of intense fighting between the Congolese troops and M23 rebels. The Ugandan government on Wednesday repatriated the Congolese soldiers who fled the rebel fire last week.
The troops were handed over to Jean Pierre Massala, the Congolese deputy Ambassador to Uganda. "We handed back the soldiers to the Congolese government and released all their weapons. They are supposed to defend their nation," said Mugisha.
The M23 is largely comprised of former rebels of CNDP, a group that was integrated into the Congolese army in 2009, as part of a peace deal. The soldiers began to defect in March to form the newest rebel group in the eastern part of the country.Uganda called for regional emergency meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end the conflict.