KAMPALA - Senior Ugandan government officials have welcomed efforts by the Rwandan government to put an end to negative forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that have posed the biggest threat to regional peace.
In an interview with The New Times Tuesday, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, the Ugandan Minister of Defence, welcomed the joint DRC – Rwanda military operation and noted that the operation will greatly facilitate the restoration of peace and security in DRC and its neighbours.
The joint operation that has been code-named ‘Umoja Wetu’ was launched two weeks ago by Rwandan forces and the DR Congo army.
The Minister added that the operation was necessary to “smoke out” the ex-far/Interahamwe under the Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) hiding in Eastern DRC, remnants of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
These elements have for over a decade continued to terrorize the civilian population both in Congo and Rwanda, posing a challenge to peace and stability in both countries.
“The people who caused and participated in the 1994 Genocide must be chased wherever they are. It is good that finally both Rwanda and DRC and UN are working together to disarm them and stop them from causing any trouble in future,” he said.
He added that such negative forces tend to cause regional problems and for this reason joint efforts are indispensable. He cited the incidence of the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the leader of Lord’s Army Resistance (LRA) that had been routed out of the Northern region of Uganda by the Ugandan army, and instead migrated to Garamba forests in DR Congo.
“When Kony was chased from Uganda, he migrated and started attacking civilians in neighbouring countries. Such negative forces must be dealt with regionally to allow peace and stability to prevail,” Kiyonga warned.
Uganda’s defence force in a joint operation with Southern Sudan, and Congo launched attacks on LRA rebels in eastern Congo last year in December.
In a separate interview, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, the Ugandan Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees also hailed the operation saying joint efforts in solving intractable problems is the only solution to bringing peace and stability to the region.
“The moment two or three countries recognize that there is a common problem and they work together to address that problem, that is a sign of development,” he said, adding that joint efforts to solve regional problems are welcome.
“This perception of imagining that there is a problem which respects borders is actually self deception.”
The Minister observed that negative forces had largely contributed to the problem of refugees in the region.
“If we solve this problem, we shall avoid displacement of people in Rwanda, Congo, Uganda, Sudan, and DRC. Though the joint operation may not offer a permanent solutions to Congo’s problems because they are difficult to come by, moving towards solutions is commendable.”
The Minister added that it is in the interest of the region that DR Congo is stable.
Meanwhile, John Drazu Arumadri the, shadow Minister for Local Government said that negative forces that destabilize governments must be dealt with accordingly.
“If dialogue has failed, governments in place must come together to fight such negative forces. This will also address the issue of countries accusing neighbours of harbouring negative forces,” he said.
He added that such joint operations mean that countries will stop destabilizing each other and will gradually lead to peace in the region.
“This is a good approach that will bring stability in the region and it should be encouraged because it builds trust within countries,” he said.