Residents neighbouring DR. Congo in Kasese District have
expressed support for the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF deployment in Congo to
fight the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF rebels.
Last week, the UPDF and the DRC forces
launched a joint operation code-named “Military Suja (Hero), against the
ADF militants in neighbouring Congo, an offensive that Ugandan officials said
was intended to drive the militants out of their bases.
Many neighbours of DRC, especially those that
have tasted the wrath of ADF before are optimistic that peace will now return
to the region after the intervention.
Others say they have strong ties including
business and ancestral relations with the Congolese and the continued wars have
directly affected them.
For example, in November 1996, ADF perpetrated
its first large scale attack on towns of Bwera and Mpondwe-Lhubiriha were over
50 people were killed and it took years before business returned to normalcy.
Lukas Bwambale a popular political analysist in
Kasese explains Ugandans especially living close to DRC have overtime been living
under the threat of ADF attacks.
He says many people in the district have
relatives in DRC and hearing that UPDF is trying to secure them gives a relief
to these families.
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Bwambale also reasons that the entry of UPDF
builds relations between Ugandans and Congolese easing exchange of security
However, he demands for involvement of all
stakeholders so that they can be supportive to the operation.
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Rev. Ezra Mukonzo Yongeza the Kasese District
chairperson for Inter-religious organization heartedly welcomes the UPDF
intervention decrying the heinous acts conducted by the ADF group in Rwenzori
region including the killing of over 80 students of Kicwamba Technical College
in Kabarole District in 1998.
He says the survival of the ADF group in DRC
means border communities will never have peace.
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Masitura Kasibante operating a mini-boutique in
Bwera town and whose brother was shot and killed by ADF in 2016 says the family has
never felt safe since that period.
She says this is the groups that was trained in
DRC and came purposely to kill and destroy their properties.
“Who knows where my brother would be by now if
it wasn’t for his life being cut short by ADF?” questioned Kasibante.
Doreen Mbabu, another resident says they have
always been worried of ADF invasion and when UPDF goes for the group from its
breeding grounds, it’s a sigh of relief.
She adds that the presence of rebels in DRC has
also hinderd smooth cross-border trade.
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Elder Anna Bakazimbaga Bwambale says if the
motive is genuinely to save the lives of Ugandans and Congolese she has no
She also calls for involvement of the local population
noting that the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda-NALU in 1988 was
only defeated with the support of or dinary Ugandans.
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Gregory Kombi, the Bwera Sub-county Chairperson
LC III has also welcomed the intervention but demands of UPDF to give proper
accountability to the country regarding the operations.