Who is responsible for the flare up of violence at the Congo border(s) with Uganda and Rwanda? How come that the Congolese are angry with Uganda and Rwanda at a time the two countries are engaged in battling armed groups operating in the vast country that recently joined the East African Community (EAC)?
As Africans, we are to blame for much of the instability going on our continent due to artificial divisions and unprincipled nature of our people and weakness of some leaders. However, if one looks closely, he or she can see the hand of foreign elements in action.
How come that the flare up of violence arises just at the EAC solidifies, whereby that opens up the region for mutual trade and socialisation while strengthening strategic security? The answer is that there is no coincidence in this; the same forces that have always fought African unity and progress are at play to fail the regional integration dream.
Last year, Uganda deployed its army, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in the DRC provinces of North Kivu and Ituri to flash out the ADF rebels who had been making daring incursions in Uganda, shooting big personalities in their cars and planting bombs that killed scores in Kampala. ADF has been more of a menace in DRC where they would carry out systematic butcherings of the population in the East part of the country. They had a plan to spread their reign of terror regionally, and then team up with other groups to make the region uninhabitable and ungovernable. UPDF’s intervention was a total necessity that has saved our people from bloodshed.
Codenamed “Operation Shujaa”, the operation is still on and has so far made the killer groups sneeze; they have scattered and lost appetite for their crimes, as President Yoweri Museveni, the man behind the move to totally pacify the Great Lakes region and make Africa a powerhouse that can defend itself at all times, would say. Teaming up with the Congolese army (FARDC) ensured better coordination and pooling of logistics to give the rebels a bloody nose. It also gave the operation legitimacy since the Congo Government had given it a green light. The Congolese people were relieved and welcomed the operation, treating the Uganda soldiers as heroes and according them due support.
The deployment had been long in coming was done out of the greatest necessity given how much trouble had been brewing in that part of the region. The deployment was done transparently.
President Museveni, in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the UPDF authorised the operations within his Constitutional powers, obligations and responsibilities as per the Oath he took while assuming office in swearing to protect Ugandans and their property.
Since assuming power in 1986, President Museveni has emphasised security of person and property as the bedrock of democracy and transformation. He has made security his key constituency in the defence of which he has battled numerous threats and neutralised them, locally and internationally. ADF has been among the few latent groups attempting a resurge and he was not about to stand by and look. The Congolese were crying, Ugandans were hurting and there was no one to help. It was time to send it where all other groups that attempted to destabilise Uganda ended up and make them pay for their crimes. And paying they have been!
Then, suddenly, we hear that the Congolese population is up in arms against Uganda and Rwanda, blaming them for the resurge of activities by a different rebel group, M23, which is fighting the Congolese Government. I am not well-versed with the formations and motives of some of these groups but what I know is that ADF was started to fight President Museveni’s Government. When defeated, they fled and set up their bases in DRC and begun to work as guns for hire and promoters of fundamentalist ideology in the region. They also went into plundering natural resources and the farms of the Congolese, on top of killing them.
The war against ADF must not be fought in halves; it should be fought until ADF is totally no more, then, if need be, the firepower is directed to other enemies operating in the same theatre of action. I have reason to believe that there is such a plan in the pipeline and that is what is causing hostile elements backing and benefitting from the activities of the terror groups to panic and seek to redeem their schemes by stirring mass discontent among the Congolese so that Pan-Africanist forces like UPDF are turned away from completing the task at hand.
It also has to do with the rekindling of relations between Uganda and Rwanda of recent. With the historical bonds restored between the two countries, prospects of regional stability and Integration are brighter and Africa’s enemies hate to see this. They are now behind-the-scenes engineering schemes to turn to DRC against Uganda and Rwanda so that they remain in charge of the vast resource-rich Eastern DRC territory.
But the bigger motive is to fail EAC Integration. Africans, let us avoid being manipulated to fight each other so that we miss the bigger picture of where we could be if we agreed to integrate!
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
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