18 October 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Uganda Denies Supporting DRC's M23 Rebels

A leaked UN report has implicated Rwanda and Uganda in the latest rebellion in eastern DR Congo. Are the armed rebels merely proxies in a regional ... ( Resource: Fuelling the DR Congo Conflict )

Kampala — Uganda has denied allegations in a UN report that the Ugandan army has helped rebel activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The UN report, which was leaked to the international media, said Uganda is supporting the M23 rebels of Bosco Ntaganda in their conflict with the Kinshasa government.

According to the report, the armies of Rwanda and Uganda have helped M23 expand its control of territory in eastern Congo.

Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson Colonel Felix Kulaigye says the report is undermining Uganda's credibility in mediating peace efforts in Congo.

"It's hogwash, it's a mere rumour that's being taken as a report. It's undermining the credibility of the mediator which is Uganda, and when you undermine the credibility of the mediator you are actually undermining the entire process," Kulaigye told RFI.

He noted that leaders of the rebels and officials from the Congolese government are in Kampala for peace talks, contrary to the reports that Uganda has allowed the M23 rebel group's political branch to operate from within Kampala to boost its external relations.

"Kinshasa authorities are here, the M23 leaders are here to negotiate because dialogue was approved by the summit. The first summit sanctioned Uganda to mediate, if indeed we were taking sides I am sure DRC would have objected. The fact that DRC supported the initiative shows you that we indeed enjoy credibility before the warring parties" he said.

The army said there are people who are benefiting from the conflict in eastern DRC who are trying to frustrate the Congo peace process.

"If the peace process collapses then the conflict continues and then those who are earning salaries and allowances continue to earn" Kulaigye said.

Heads of state of the Great Lakes region, meeting in Kampala in August, agreed that Uganda and Rwanda would not contribute troops to the joint armed force to fight the rebels due to their real or perceived interest in the conflict in the DRC.

In April this year M23 rebels clashed with the Congo forces leading to an influx of refugees in the neighbouring Uganda.

Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello Oryem said in a statement issued Wednesday that Uganda remains fully committed to spearhead the regional efforts to ensure security and stability in eastern DRC as mandated by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.

He said it is disappointing that the UN group of experts has chosen to deliberately undermine the regional effort which is contrary to the UN Charter.

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