The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) has filed a protest with the United Nations Mission’s office in Kampala against reports by UN-backed radio that UPDF troops were massing on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The UPDF said such reports were not only unprofessional but also cast doubts on the credibility of an agreement recently signed in Arusha, Tanzania between President Yoweri Museveni and DRC President Joseph Kabila. Sources say the report has put the Congolese military on high alert. At the Arusha summit in northern Tanzania on Saturday, Presidents Museveni and Kabila agreed to end their border dispute and make greater efforts to stamp out rebel groups blamed for destabilizing the eastern DRC.
Ugandan Army spokesman, Major Felix Kulayigye, confirms to reporter Peter Clottey that the recent radio report has been controversial.
"The latest development is that the border area is quiet with calm. Indeed the two presidents had very wonderful discussions in Arusha, and that is why we were shocked by the claims by radio Okapi that we are deployed. And interestingly, MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) says they can’t confirm that report. And I’m sure they are better disposed than the radio to tell whether indeed there are deployments along the border or not,” Kulayigye pointed out.
He says the radio report potentially raises questionable doubts about the agreement signed by President Museveni and Joseph Kabila over the weekend.
“I’m must say the report seems to have been intended to do just that,” he said.
Kulayigye said the UPDF has launched a strong protest with the UN mission’s office in Kampala, detailing the army’s displeasure with what it describes as an unfortunate, dismissible report.
“We have registered our protest to the MONUC office in Kampala, and they have promised to communicate to the radio about our dissatisfaction with their report, which is un-researched,” Kulayigye noted.
He said Uganda is not going to war, despite speculation that the radio report has put the Congolese forces on high alert.
“There is no need for worry as far as Uganda is concerned. We have always had avenues for dialogue and also no need for troop deployment. Once you have dialogue in place, there is no reason why you should go to war. We don’t see ourselves going to war as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Kulayigye dismissed as nonsensical comments by one of the top rebel Lord’s Resistance Army leaders that they are ready to fight when attacked by forces belonging to the DRC because of the recently signed agreement between Uganda and the DRC.
“As far as the negotiations in Juba are concerned, DRC is not a party to the agreement -- firstly, the cessation of hostilities and secondly, DRC has an obligation as our neighbors to ensure that no militia group or rebel group uses DRC territory to undermine security of the country they come from. Thirdly, as presidents they have obligations to their people, the agreement that they reached does not need the approval of Vincent Otti,” Kulayigye said.