Joint DRC-Uganda operation against ADF group took a long time to come

22Dec 2021
The Guardian
Joint DRC-Uganda operation against ADF group took a long time to come

CURRENT authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are making a big effort to ignore a breath of opinion in that country to enlist the support of neighbouring Uganda, taking into the Congo several mechanised units to shred by artillery fire and combing the ground,-

-to flush out rebels or putting them on the run. The situation is so acute psychologically that even with all atrocities committed by Alliance for Democratic Forces (ADF) group that prides itself with global terror groups links, opinion among leading political leaders in Kinshasa, in the legislature, isn’t totally in support of the move. Many are critical of it.

As a matter of fact, Uganda itself wasn’t especially enthusiastic about sending troops to DRC despite a decade or so of guerilla atrocities, as it is widely known that fighting groups in DRC have links with authorities in the capital or in the provinces, who relish in chaos to conduct unregulated mining activities or logging, paying no taxes to the government. It was not until Uganda was itself the victim of bombs ripping the centre of Kampala that the state authorities decided that ‘enough is enough’ and order had to be resorted across the border. In that case DRC authorities chose to cooperate, not siding with the rebels.

By comparison, cooperation between DRC and neighbouring Rwanda is taking place only at the level of police liaisons, as contentions, radical animosities, between Rwanda and portions of Congolese society and state authorities run quite deep. Yet even in this context the misdeeds of ADF definitely outweigh the supposed unifying factor of their being Congolese, that the issue be treated as an internal issue of law and order, etc. That argument is still being cultivated by politicians in Kinshasa but the leadership had to act, and as Uganda was going to have to sort out the rebels anyway cooperating was a logical course of action.

Questions are still lingering as to how definitive this joint operation is going to be, how far it is sustainable in terms of duration of troops, and affinity with the population now besieged by guerrilla grou8ps. All this will depend on how far the Ugandan army has come in relation to the past, and the same applies to DRC forces in the zone, that is, to what extent they are now disciplined forces working for national governments, and not disposed to act as conquerors out to gather minerals and then go home. It is an issue that has a long history in DRC-Ugandan relations, and later Rwanda, as early in 1971 then President Milton Obote wrote to army chief Major General Idi Amin to explain looting of diamonds when Uganda army units confronted rebels across the border. Instead of explaining, Gen. Amin liaised with at least two foreign countries for some logistic and diplomatic cover, and as they say, the rest is history.

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