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Parliament Debate on UPDF Deployment in Congo Deferred Again

The UPDF entered Congo a week ago, in pursuit of the Allied Democratic Forces –ADF rebels, many of whom sought refuge in parts of Beni Territory and North Kivu province, in Eastern DRC. The offensive is implemented jointly with the Armed Forces of the DRC.
Members of Parliament during the Plenary Sitting.

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Legislators have for the second time this week failed to receive a statement from the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Vincent Ssempijja about the deployment of Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.

The UPDF entered Congo a week ago, in pursuit of the Allied Democratic Forces –ADF rebels, many of whom sought refuge in parts of Beni Territory and North Kivu province, in Eastern DRC. The offensive is implemented jointly with the Armed Forces of the DRC.

According to the UPDF Spokesperson, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, the UPDF had launched joint air and artillery strikes against ADF camps with their Congolese allies. This followed four separate bomb blasts in Uganda in the month of November that claimed the lives of at least 10 people and left several others injured. The Uganda government has blamed the four attacks on ADF.

Last week, Deputy Speaker Anita Among informed parliament that the Minister had asked for more time to present a statement on the matter on Tuesday. While the minister was a no-show yesterday, the matter did not come up, even though the item had been listed on the order paper.

But during its sitting on Wednesday, Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo expressed fear that all Minister's in the security docket had not appeared before parliament to present a statement and seek the House permission for UPDF's deployment. Ssekikubo insisted that the deployment in DRC without the permission of the House is against the provisions of the Constitution.

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In response, the Deputy Speaker said that the Ministers informed her that they were engaged in other issues of securing the country. She added that the Leader of Government Business, Robinah Nabbanja would on Thursday be asked to present a statement on the matter.

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Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa noted that the MPs should be patient because the matter regarding UPDF in DR Congo is on the Order Paper and soon the minister would be in parliament to justify why the government decided to deploy the UPDF in Congo.

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During a press conference held on Monday last week, THE Spokespersons for the FARDC, General Léon-Richard Kasonga, and the Congolese National Police, Léon Richard Kasonga confirmed that there was a collaboration or pooling of efforts between the Congolese and Ugandan armies, in particular, to put an end to the terrorism perpetrated by the Ugandan rebels of the ADF.

The national deputy and president of the Group of deputies of the 26 provinces of the DRC, Gratien Iracan, indicates that the joint intervention of the armies of Uganda and the DRC to track down the negative forces which destabilize the region of Ituri and North Kivu could be an effective solution to stop the massacres in the DRC.

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