Gen Muntu pleads with UPDF to Keep off Congo’s resources

BY: Eyalama In News On

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 were accused of illegal exploitation of resources from 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.

[corona country="Uganda" title="Uganda"]

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 Congolese war.

In 2001, a UN report found that while the three countries went to Congo to secure their borders, they stayed there to steal resources.

[corona country="Kenya" title="Kenya"]

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 without their consent. 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.

For a long time, Eastern 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 Eastern 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 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 of parliament.

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