Defence Minister gives assurance on Operation Shujaa in DR Congo
The Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Jacob Oboth, has said that the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF)’s “Operation Shujaa” against the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the DR Congo is on course.
In November 2021, Uganda and the DR Congo signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct a joint military operation code-named “Operation Shujaa” against the ADF in Eastern DR Congo following escalated attacks by the rebels in both countries in 2021.
While presenting a statement on the operations of the UPDF in the DR Congo during plenary on Wednesday, 25 January 2023, Oboth said it had registered significant achievements.
“Operation Shujaa has evolved through phases renewable after every two months. The joint operation remains on course with significant achievements. For example; in 2022 alone, 424 ADF terrorists were killed, 81 others were captured, 115 abductees were rescued and 118 firearms with assorted ammunition and 10 IEDs (Improvised explosive devices) were recovered,” Oboth said.
He said that the joint forces have continued to mount pressure against the ADF in order to decisively neutralise the terror group.
Following the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State conclave in Kenya in April 2022 that resolved to establish and deploy EAC regional forces in the DR Congo, Oboth said that Uganda as a member is ready to contribute a battle group to the regional force based in Ituri Province.
“The UPDF has so far deployed the advance team to the force headquarters in Goma and the main body is already prepared and awaits final administrative arrangements to deploy,” he said.
Hon. Ibanda Rwemulikya (Indep., Ntoroko County) applauded the UPDF for pacifying both Uganda and DR Congo against the ADF but urged them to deploy heavily in the rebel-zoned provinces.
“The UPDF has been deployed in areas such as Boga, Mitengo, and Beni, but the rebels are hiding in areas like Kasenyi, Geti, and Bunia and they are slaughtering people. So the UPDF should cover all those areas so that the ADF is swept out,” said Hon. Rwemulikya.
Terego Woman MP, Hon. Rose Obigah, also applauded the UPDF, saying without them, parts of Bundibugyo and Maracha districts would have easily been invaded by the ADF.
She, however, called upon government to stop tampering with money meant for the UPDF officers in the DR Congo.
Hon. Lillian Aber (NRM, Kitgum District Woman MP) said the UPDF should also extend the same heroics to fight cattle rusting in several parts of the country.
“We applaud the UPDF for the work done, but we need to redeploy those soldiers to Kitgum and other parts of the country to arrest cattle raids because communities are asking why we are performing so well in the outside battles but not within,” she said.
However, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, was dissatisfied with the minister’s statement saying Uganda should have negotiated with the DR Congo to offset the cost of this operation which is being footed by each country.
“We agree Congo’s security is our own security. But should it be at our cost in its entirety?” he asked.
Hon. Brenda Nabukenya (NUP., Luweero District Woman MP) warned the UPDF against getting involved in dubious activities while in the DR Congo as was the case between the late 1990s and 2003 when Uganda’s army was faulted for invasion, destruction of property and natural resources.
As a result, the International Court of Justice ordered Uganda to pay US$325 million to the DR Congo in reparation.