Uganda threatens to pull out of Somalia over M23 rebels

Yoweri Museveni
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.   FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kampala yesterday said it was considering three options, including withdrawing from the Somalia peacekeeping mission, following a UN report alleging that Uganda and Rwanda are supporting M23 rebels who are fighting the DR Congo government.

State minister for regional cooperation, Mr Asuman Kiyingi, told the Daily Monitor yesterday that the second option was remaining involved in the operations despite the allegations while the third is demanding the UN to withdraw the allegations so that UPDF continues with the operations.

“In the worst case, which we don’t want, [the option] is withdrawing,” he said.

He said Uganda would withdraw from the war against Somali insurgents and fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Central African Republic. “If the international community has lost confidence in us, we have to review our peace support operations. It’s logical that we review our position on these operations,” he said.

Ugandan soldiers, who have made a significant contribution in flushing out the al Shabaab militants, guard key installations in Somalia like State House, the sea port and parliament and Mogadishu International Airport.

Mr Kiyingi said government will soon give a detailed response to the UN and also explain the role played by Uganda in mediating talks between DR Congo and the M23 rebels.

President Museveni, who is the chairperson of the International Conference for Great Lakes Region, has been acting as an arbiter in the conflict that has has displaced thousands of people in North Kivu.

Army spokesperson, Col. Felix Kulayigye, last night said if government decides that UPDF withdraws, they would withdraw. “That would be a political decision. If they decide that we withdraw, we will get out because that so-called UN report is not only annoying, it’s disheartening,” he said.

Col. Kulayigye confirmed that Mr Museveni met the M23 rebels in Kampala in July at the request of President Kabila. “He didn’t know them. This was done after Kinshasa made a request. It’s actually [Tanzania’s] President Kikwete who moved the motion during the summit,” he said.

When asked about media reports that Angolan troops are, in a repeat of their intervention during the 1990s Congo war, deploying in DR Congo because Rwanda and DRC are preparing troops for war, Col. Kulayigye said he was not aware but said UPDF will remain at the border monitoring the situation.

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