Uganda: Museveni, Tshisekedi to Launch Mpondwe Bridge

President Museveni and his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi are this morning expected to officially launch Mpondwe Bridge in Kasese District.

The bridge links Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The two heads of state will also commission a joint construction project of major road infrastructure that links the two countries.

President Museveni recently defended Uganda's funding of infrastructure development in DR Congo, arguing that it was aimed at boosting trade between the two neighboring countries.

In May this year, officials from Uganda and DRC signed major agreements that will see the two countries bolster cross-border trade, development and the stabilization of eastern Congo.

The signing ceremony that was held on May 27, 2021 at State House Entebbe, was a follow-up to the meeting between Mr Museveni and Mr Tshisekedi that recently took place at State House Entebbe when he was in the country to attend Museveni's swearing-in ceremony at Kololo.

Mr Museveni signed the inter-governmental agreement on behalf of Uganda while deputy Prime Minister and minister of Foreign Affairs Christophe Lutundula signed on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The signing was witnessed by Speaker Jacob Oulanyah. On the same occasion, a project development agreement (PDA) was signed between the two countries on cross-border roads. The permanent secretary ministry of Works and Transport Bageya Waiswa signed on behalf of Uganda while the DRC minister of state for Infrastructure and Public Works Alexi Gisaro Muvunyi signed on behalf of DRC.

This was witnessed by deputy speaker Anita Annet Among. The third PDA agreement was signed with the Dott Services contractors and witnessed by DRC's presidential advisor Bisere Fortunate.

Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Mr Museveni expressed gratitude to Tshisekedi for accepting to partner with the Uganda government in the three crucial sectors of roads, electricity and security that he said are the pillars of development to any nation.

"This is just butter on a bread roll. Peace is the bread and roads are the butter. It's good that President Tshisekedi sent his team to do something about the roads. We are also ready for the electricity. We took power to Kasindi and now Beni and Butembo. We shall extend to Mahangi. We are ready to work on three things, security, roads and electricity. Even if we don't do anything else, for now, people on both sides will be happy with these," Mr Museveni said.

Museveni said Uganda and DRC not only share borders but their people are the same.

"The Nandis in Congo, the Bakonjo, Banyoro, Bahema, Banyamboga, Bamba, Hutu, Lendu etc are the same people. When there is insecurity, we are affected directly. We currently have 4,000 Congolese refugees in Uganda camps and others in society with their relatives," he said.

In April this year, DRC reopened a reparation case it filed against Uganda at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Congo demanded $322 million for damages caused by its troops during the Congo invasion between 1997 and 2003.This reparation is part of the $4.3 billion compensation that Congo is demanding from Uganda - nearly half of the $10 billion it demanded in 2005.

The additional amount Congo is demanding is for the looting of its minerals, destroying the environment, adverse impact on the economy and legal costs. When added the figure totals to about $4.3 billion (about Shs 14 trillion). The figure is a drop from the $10 billion that DRC had demanded from Uganda in 2005 when it won the case.

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