Ugandan troops are not in DRC to fight M23, says Museveni
President Museveni has explained circumstances under which Uganda on Wednesday deployed troops under the East African Regional Force to eastern DRC.
In a statement released on Thursday, the president, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces said the deployment of 1000 troops by Uganda is not to engage but rather maintain peace in DRC.
“… in that effort, we are not going to battle or fight the M-23. The Congo government and the M-23, have agreed to a peace plan, which involves cessation of hostilities (fighting), withdrawal of the M-23 from some of the specified areas they had captured to other areas that have been agreed upon, etc,” Museveni said.
He noted that peace talks have been ongoing between the M23 rebels and the DRC government , noting that they should continue so that the problem is solved politically for peace to return to eastern DRC.
“Our initial mission, therefore, is to occupy some of the positions that the M-23 has handed over to the East African Force as a neutral force, instead of the Congolese army which the M-23 see as enemies or armed opponents in their internal politics.”
“We are, therefore, going to the Bunagana–Rutshuru area, not in order to fight the M-23, but to act as a neutral force as the Congolese use the time to sort out their political problems.”
According to the plan of the East African Regional Force, Ugandan troops will be deployed in Bunagana and Rushturu in North Kivu.
These areas are where the M23 have previously operated and had controlled big chunks of territory.
According to Museveni, the Ugandan troops will not attack any one unless they are attacked.
“Fighting may come later if one of the non-state armed groups does not accept peace on what we all regard as reasonable conditions. The East African authority (the Heads of State) would, then, have to mandate us to fight if one of the stake-holders refuses to implement the peace agreement we have agreed on.”
The president also commented about the UPDF deployment in Eastern DRC jointly with the Congolese army under Operation Shuja that he said is registering several successes.
He explained that in this regard, UPDF is deployed in the areas of Beni, Virunga (Biruunga) National Park, Semuliki, Mbooga and areas of Ituri.
“With our Congolese brothers and sisters, we have seriously degraded ADF, so much that, most of them, the remnants, are running towards Mambasa-Komanda areas, quite far from the border.”
He said that the Congolese farmers are now able to harvest their Cocoa for the first time, in many years unlike before when it was being harvested by ADF rebels.