Uganda to share intelligence with Congo on Islamist rebels

17 May 2021 - 17:30 By Reuters
People inspect a burned police car, after two groups of Muslims clashed outside Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo May 13, 2021.
People inspect a burned police car, after two groups of Muslims clashed outside Martyrs Stadium in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo May 13, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Hereward Holland

Uganda said on Monday it had agreed with neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to share intelligence and co-ordinate a new push by Kinshasa to combat Islamist rebels blamed for worsening violence in Congo's east.

The move came a week after Congolese officials said the two countries would set up an operations centre in Eastern Congo to fight the rebels, known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

“Definitely, there will be co-ordination, sharing intelligence, sharing information and all sorts of security nature kind of activities,” Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, spokesperson for the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), told Reuters.

The commander of UPDF's Mountain Brigade, Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga, had in recent days met security officials in the eastern Congo town of Beni to discuss co-ordinating on anti-ADF operations, Byekwaso said.

However, Uganda did not intend to deploy forces in Congo, Byekwaso said.

A Congolese government spokesperson had no immediate comment.

The violence in Eastern Congo, which the United Nations said killed 850 people last year, has pushed the two countries to improve historically strained relations.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, after a Monday meeting in Paris with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, also affirmed collaboration with Congo in fighting rebels.

“We will also be alongside the DRC for all the initiatives put in place to strengthen security in the east of its territory, which borders our country,” Kagame said in a statement released by the Congolese presidency on Monday.

Rwanda is interested in another rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu militia founded by former officers and militiamen who fled into Congo after participating in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The ADF on the other hand began its insurgency against the Ugandan government in the 1990s from its bases in the mountains of western Uganda, across the border from Eastern Congo.

Later that decade, a Ugandan government offensive pushed fighters deeper into the eastern Congolese jungle and temporarily quelled the uprising. But violence has spiked in recent years.

In March, the US labelled the ADF a foreign terrorist organisation because of alleged links to the Islamic state group, though the United Nations has played down the strength and nature of IS influence in Congo.

On May 3, Kinshasa introduced martial law in eastern Congo's North Kivu and Ituri provinces in hopes of stemming the worsening bloodshed.

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