Tension rife as DR Congo rebels escape from camp

30 Jan, 2017 - 00:01 0 Views
Tension rife as DR Congo rebels escape from camp M23 rebels

The Herald

KAMPALA. — Tension is reportedly high in the Democratic Republic of Congo after former fighters of the dreaded M23 rebel group escaped from a Ugandan military camp back to the eastern DRC.

DRC authorities argue that this may lead to the resumption of subversive activities by the former fighters who were defeated by the Congolese and UN troops before fleeing to Uganda in late 2013.

Lambert Mende Omalanga, the Congolese government spokesperson, told reporters in Kinshasa, last week that hundreds of ex-M23 fighters, including its military leader, Sultani Makenga, who had been exiled in Uganda, sneaked to their former bases in eastern DR Congo.

The Uganda government on January 19 said it had arrested 101 former M23 fighters as they attempted to cross back to the DRC.

“These people were arrested on their way back aboard taxi minibuses as normal passengers. On questioning them, all of them were found to be former M23 combatants,” Ofwono Opondo, a Ugandan government spokesman told Xinhua.

The arrest came days after some 40 former fighters escaped back to the central African country. The incident is likely to cause a diplomatic row between the authorities in Uganda and DR Congo.

Uganda has “no sinister motive against” DR Congo, said Opondo.

“These are individuals who were trying to escape against the agreed modalities and agreement. We still don’t know the motive of their escape.” After several months of fighting back in 2013 that sparked a refugee influx into Uganda, the M23 and DRC government signed a peace agreement mediated by Uganda.

To fuse the simmering tension, Ugandan and DRC authorities are said to be in talks.

Henry Obbo, Uganda’s deputy army spokesman, told Xinhua in an interview that the two governments are in talks over the repatriation of the former fighters. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Uganda) is working closely with the Congolese authorities on the return of the M23. The two governments signed agreements in 2014 regarding the M23. We are waiting for what will be agreed and action will be taken,” Obbo said.

Uganda, the DRC and M23 rebels reached an agreement in 2014 regarding the return of 1 377 former rebels camped at Bihanga military training school in the western district of Ibanda for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration back home.

Of the 1 377 former militants, only 200 have been returned home for official disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. Eastern DR Congo has got a string of rebel groups that cause mayhem in the central African country. — Xinhua.

Share This:

Sponsored Links