New Vision (Kampala)

31 July 2012

East Africa: UPDF Not in DR Congo, Says Gen. Aronda

UPDF chief of defense forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has confirmed his hopes in regional initiatives to settle problems between the Conglese government and M23 rebels following media reports that UPDF is in the DRC.

"The problem between DRC and M23 is a subject that is going to be competently and ably deliberated on by the regional summit of the heads of state," he said.

Gen. Aronda stressed that UPDF operates systematically under full command and control, completely aware of what the force and the people stand to benefit from regional integration and regional collective security.

"We cannot under some darkness or some corner infiltrate UPDF soldiers into the DRC."

The general called on the Congolese government act on those spreading the rumors against the Ugandan government and UPDF.

For some time now, UPDF has been involved in strengthening Africa's regional security mechanisms leading to the establishment of the AU standby Force.

Regional blocks SADC and ECOWAS are part of the AU standby Force.

UPDF, together with the SPLA, CAR and DRC is part of the East African standby Brigade being advanced by East African states aimed at consolidating regional peace and security.

Aronda hailed UPDF for its leadership and excellence in regional security matters.

In Somalia, the Ugandan army provides the Force Commander in the war against terror aimed at neutralizing al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab.

In Yambio, South Sudan, Uganda has been given leadership of Force commander in the fight against the Lords Resistence Army (LRA).

UPDF has been operating with Congolese forces since the launch of Operation Lightning Thunder in 2007 and are still together under the AU initiative to form a task force of 5,000 troops to neutralize Kony and his men.

Aronda clarified that UPDF and the Congolese army, Central African army, and SPLA leadership together with the US Africa Command have just ended one of the series of summits on better coordination and cooperation against LRA.

When the Congolese military together with the population fled to Uganda when M23 rebels launched a series of attacks, they were received but later transported back to Mpondwe boarder post and handed over to the Congolese authorities.

Nyakairima believes this could have been the source of the rumors.

"In case anyone saw us transporting Congolese soldiers from our barracks to the boarder and is trying to mistaken that to harm our relationship with the DRC, then it is very unfortunate and we condemn it," he said.

The UPDF chief however acknowledged that UPDF together with regional security partners including FRDC have been reviewing and discussing the situation in the DRC on ADF and on an action to be taken against them.

UPDF is keeping close watch of the Uganda border vigilantly as security experts at different levels exchange information on ADF's current activities which Gen. Aronda says include recruitment training, farming and trade.

Jamil Mukulu is still the leader of the ADF, commanding about 1200 persons with about 800 guns.

Meanwhile the Uganda government is handling the Rwenzururu veterans who are brewing trouble over the creation of new kingdoms based on Bakonjo, Bamba and Basongola in Rwenzori region.

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