Uganda participated in the 1996 regional coalition formed to fight Rwandan Hutu rebels and Ugandan rebels operating in DR. Congo and said to be supported by then President of Congo Mobutu Sese Seko. However, Uganda People's Defence Forces-UPDF was accused of illegal exploitation of resources from the Congo in what came to be known as military entrepreneurialism. The United Nations -UN in its report named top military commanders and officers involved in what they called an elite network.
The President of the Alliance for National Transformation-ANT Gen. Mugisha
Muntu has implored the Ugandan army operating in the Democratic Republic of
Congo-DR Congo to focus on the operation.
Muntu, a former long-serving chief of the country's defense forces, urged the UPDF to avoid repeating the unfortunate history made during
the first and second Congolese wars.
Uganda participated in the 1996 regional coalition formed to fight Rwandan Hutu
rebels and Ugandan rebels operating in DR. Congo and said to be supported by
then President of Congo Mobutu Seseseko.
However, Uganda People's Defence
Forces-UPDF was accused of illegal exploitation of resources from the Congo in
what came to be known as military entrepreneurialism. The United Nations -UN in
its report named top military commanders and officers involved in what they
called an elite network.
The same accusations emerged against Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi during the
1998-2003 occupation in the eastern part of Congo in what was known as the second
In 2001, a UN report found that while the three countries went
to Congo to secure their borders, they stayed there to steal resources.
The Congo went to court and in 2005 the International Court of Justice ruled
that Uganda violated the sovereignty of DR. Congo by sending its troops there
without their consent. The Congo demanded for reparations of between 6 billion
or 10 billion US dollars which the court granted.The amount has been growing rapidly and is now believed to be around twenty billion dollars.
Now Gen Muntu says the entry of the UPDF into Congo is a double-edged sword, posing
a challenge and also an opportunity for UPDF to salvage its image. He says they
have to focus on the job and avoid stealing Congo’s resources or engaging in any
form of Human Rights violations.
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For a long time, Easter Congo has been unstable with different rebel groups
operating there, the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF, a group government blames for
the recent bombings in Kampala being one of them.
Earlier this week, the UPDF entered into Eastern Congo and attacked bases of
ADF rebels. The surprise move, government says was agreed upon by the Congo government
with which they have been sharing intelligence.
Gen. Muntu says that it is legitimate for Uganda to go to Eastern Congo to
protect its interests as a country. He says the government of DR. Congo has for
long been unable to establish robust presence in Easter Congo to deny any group
sanctuary from destabilizing neighbors, Uganda inclusive.
But Muntu says the manner in which Uganda went into Congo without consent of
the Parliament of Uganda is irregular and wrong. He says while the UPDF had
discussions with the government of Congo, parliament should have been involved.
Section 39 of the UPDF Act provides that the president may deploy troops outside Uganda for purposes of peacekeeping and peace enforcement but that the deployment for purposes of peace keeping shall be done with approval of parliament.
Muntu says, if it was important to have parliament discuss the matter during
plenary for security reasons, the two arms of government, the executive and
parliament should have devised means to share information but not act without
the knowledge parliament.
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Yesterday while addressing the press, the army Spokesperson, Brigadier Flavia
Byekwaso said they the army could not involve parliament at the time because
that would have alerted the people they were targeting.