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Uganda finally deploys troops to regional force in eastern DRC
Uganda has finally deployed troops under the regional East African Community standby force.
Uganda to deploy 1,000 troops to DR Congo to fight M23 rebels
What you need to know:
- The volatile region has witnessed fierce fighting in recent months between Congolese troops and the M23 rebel group, prompting the East African Community (EAC) bloc to deploy a joint regional force to quell the violence.
Uganda will deploy around 1,000 soldiers in eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo by the end of November under a regional force against a
rebel offensive, a Ugandan military spokesman said Tuesday.
The volatile region has witnessed fierce fighting in recent months between Congolese troops and the M23 rebel group, prompting the East African Community (EAC) bloc to deploy a joint regional force to quell the violence.
Kenyan soldiers arrived in the country on November 12 and Uganda's
military and defence spokesman, Felix Kulayigye, told AFP that a Ugandan
contingent would follow shortly.
"We are doing final mentoring of our troops before inserting them into Eastern DRC before (the) end of this month to join our colleagues from Kenya who are already on the ground," Kulayigye said.
"We are sending about 1,000 (soldiers) on the mission," he said, without giving the exact date of departure.
The fighting has reignited regional tensions, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the M23, something that UN experts and US officials have also said in recent months.
Kigali denies supporting the M23 and accuses Kinshasa of colluding with the FDLR -- a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the 1994 genocide of mainly Tutsis in Rwanda.
The M23, a largely Congolese Tutsi militia, has seized swathes of
territory across North Kivu province, edging towards the region's main
city of Goma.
Two Ugandan military sources familiar with the matter told AFP on condition of anonymity that Kampala had already sent intelligence, medical and logistical teams into Goma to prepare the ground for the planned deployment.
The M23 first leapt to prominence 10 years ago when it captured Goma in 2012, before being driven out and going to ground.
But it re-emerged late last year, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.
The EAC regional force is expected to include soldiers from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. But its intended total size remains unclear.
The M23 is one of around 120 armed groups active in eastern Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared late last century.
Uganda to send 1,000 troops to regional force against M23 in DRC
Uganda will be the third country to deploy troops after contingents from Kenya and Burundi have arrived in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
ganda’s army said on Monday that it will send 1,000 troops to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the end of this month to join a regional force mandated to help end decades of instability.
The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC), which DRC joined this year, agreed in April to set up a force to fight militia groups in its east.
Uganda will be the third country to deploy troops after contingents from Kenya and Burundi have arrived in the area, Uganda’s army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said. But their involvement has been opposed by some activist groups and officials because of Uganda’s role in the conflict in DRC.
In September, Uganda paid Congo $65m, the first installment of reparations amounting to $325m for losses caused by Ugandan troops occupying Congolese territory in the 1990s.
Eastern DRC already hosts hundreds of Ugandan troops, deployed nearly a year ago under a separate bilateral arrangement to help hunt down the ISIL-allied group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Despite billions of dollars spent on one of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping forces, more than 120 armed groups continue to operate across large swathes of eastern Congo, including M23 rebels, which Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of supporting. Kigali denies the claims.
The UN says it found evidence contrary to Kigali’s claims.
The M23 have staged a major offensive this year, seizing territory, forcing thousands of people from their homes, and sparking a diplomatic row between Congo and Rwanda.
On Friday, the EAC said Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame had agreed on the need for M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured territory.