Rwanda Furious as Uganda Declines to Sign MoU on Joint Military Operations in DR Congo

The Rwandan government is furious over Uganda’s refusal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the two countries’ armed forces jointly with DR Congo to carry out operations in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), sources say.

The three countries’ military chiefs, as well as that of Burundi, reportedly met on Thursday and Friday in the DR Congo Eastern town, Goma that neighbours Rwanda. Uganda was represented by the Chief of Land Forces, Gen Peter Elwelu.

The Ugandan government has not officially revealed what could be the reason for not penning their signature to the draft agreement.

However, a Congolese officer revealed to this news website on Friday that Uganda refused to sign Rwanda backed MoU on joint operations in DR Congo and that the decision has left Rwanda which has for many years been carrying out military operations in DR Congo, very furious.

The source disclosed that Uganda had during the regime of former DR Congo President, Joseph Kabila, carried out successful aerial operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and that Rwanda had hoped Uganda would be quick to sign the newly proposed MoU between Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda for joint operations.

Formerly a rebel group based in Uganda’s western region, ADF has since the late 1990s operated in Eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu near the border with Uganda. The islamist group linked to terrorist Al Qaeda has for years terrorized Eastern DR Congo. The group continues to present a threat to Uganda as it, decades ago, used DR Congo as the base to cause mayhem within Uganda’s Western town Kasese, burning schools and murdering civilians.

While repeated Ugandan military offensives against the ADF have severely affected it, the ADF has been able to regenerate.

In 2017, the Ugandan army attacked camps in eastern DR Congo housing ADF rebels after they (ADF) raided and killed 14 United Nations peacekeepers.

UPDF said at the time that the attack carried out with airstrikes and long-range weapons from inside Uganda, was made jointly with Congolese military. The Congolese government forces’ Spokesperson who at the time spoke with this news website corroborated the information.

The Ugandan Defence Spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire said the attack followed intelligence sharing with DR Congo that indicated ADF militants were planning “hostile activities” against Uganda.

“We are carrying out airstrikes and using long-range artillery weapons from our side of the border. More so, this joint operation was proposed by the DR Congo government. The mission is being done with full co-operation of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC),” Karemire stated.

Now, our source at the Goma meeting said the FARDC leadership was left “confused and shocked” that Uganda is hesitant to pen their signature on the already drafted MoU and have developed cold feet over Rwanda’s persistent push for continued military operations in their country (DR Congo).

“Gen Peter Elwelu was all along opposed to the MoU. He then excused himself, got out of the meeting room, and made some phone calls. When he returned, he made a categorical announcement that Uganda would not sign the MoU,” the source said.

The source further revealed that it is believed that Gen Elwelu made the phone call to his superiors in Kampala.

“He must have made a phone call to Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi,” the source revealed.

The source said Rwandans are very furious as they hoped to use the MoU with Uganda to start military operations in other parts of DR Congo.

“The Rwandans want to keep where they are now and occupy other “sectors” in DR Congo as well Rutshuru, Upfizi, Nyiragongo and Masisi,” the impeccable source revealed.

The Rwandan forces currently in DR Congo have been accused of carrying out massacres in Mulenge hills. Several media have in the recent montha carried reports of Banyamulenge (natives of the Mulenge area) seeking help from the rest of the world against Rwanda military attacks that have led to countless deaths.

“Initially, we thought their operations were short term. We did not know the Rwandans had other motives in DR Congo,” the source said.

The source said there is a possibility for Rwanda to be subject of UN security investigations over the alleged illegal activities in DR Congo.

What is surprising, according to the source in the Congolese military who preferred to speak on anonymity, is that Rwandans have under the guise of eliminaring Hutu FDRL rebels who fled Rwanda over 20 years ago, also murdered countless Tutsi in Mulenge hills yet the latter were always considered by DR Congo’s FARDC and people as allied to Rwanda.

Another source said FARDC are currently divided and that majority are against Rwandan forces continued occupation of their territory.

“What the Ugandans have told us is that all they wanted is an operation in only areas where the adui (the enemy) is not other areas. I wonder why Rwandans want to occupy many areas in our country including those without adui (enemy),” the Congolese source said.

“The Rwandans are very annoyed. They are saying Ugandans have stepped in their plan by refusing to be part of the mission to carry out joint operations in other other sectors in DR Congo. The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) hoped Uganda would give legitimacy and a lease of life to their initial months’ long attacks inside DR Congo but Uganda has put their foot down.”

Asked to explain what Uganda’s issue could be, the Congolese source said the Ugandans do not want to operate in Congolese areas where the enemy is not, yet Rwandans want to move into other areas.

Efforts to contact RDF and the Ugandan Defence Spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire were futile. Brig Karemire is reportedly in Mogadishu where a Ugandan Parliamentary Committee on Defence is visiting AMISOM.

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Lukwago Joseph grew up in a newspaper family, and rumor has it that instead of playing the guitar in his infancy, his parents put a reporter’s notebook and a pen next to him shortly after he turned born eight years. Before becoming editor of UGANDANZ, Lukwago was a parliament news editor for WBS TV. He joined UGANDANZ in July 2018, A few months after the company launched. Lukwago also spent five years as a freelance reporter, where he covered reporting for the highest bidder, intelligence, foreign policy, and Ugandan police. Lukwago graduated from Makerere University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism and worked on his college newspaper.