By Emmy Allio
A dossier compiled for Kinshasa by a Congolese diplomat in Kampala has caused a row between Uganda and the DR Congo, hampering restoration of full diplomatic ties.
Security sources said the Congolese diplomat referred to Ugandaâ€™s ambassador designate to the DRC, Jacob Okello, as â€œone of the UPDF generals who plundered Congo resources between 1998 and 2003.â€
Consequently, Okello, a businessman and former general manager of the defunct Uganda Motors, was rejected by Joseph Kabilaâ€™s transitional government.
Uganda then appointed another ambassador, Dr. Moses Ebuk, a Makerere University lecturer. But Ebukâ€™s appointment is also in balance because Congo is yet to send the agremont, a document that permits an envoy into the recipient country.
â€œI am ready for my job and only waiting for the agremont,â€ said the neuro-physiology lecturer.
â€œThe row is serious because Okello was rejected on false grounds. He has neither served in the army nor been doing business in Congo. The issue has painted a dark picture on our plans to exchange ambassadors and resume full ties,â€ a senior security official said.
The DRC appears to be backtracking on naming its own ambassador to Kampala yet diplomatic rules require that naming and posting of envoys be reciprocal.
The DRCâ€™s first secretary in Uganda, Marcel Yeta Ossomba, yesterday said, â€œI donâ€™t know about our ambassador coming to Kampala.â€
â€œTo iron out these differences, I am meeting my Congolese counterpart Ramazani Baya on April 21 in Bujumbura, Burundi,â€ foreign affairs minister Sam Kuteesa said yesterday.
One of the sticky issues has been the presence in Kampala of leaders of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC), a militia group in Congoâ€™s Ituri region which is registering stunning victories against the Congolese army (FARDC).
In recent arrests, Uganda has rounded up over a dozen MRC leaders, who may be deported to Kinshasa, albeit in the absence of an existing extradition treaty between the neighbours.
DRCâ€™s foreign minister Baya on Friday lauded Uganda for the arrests, saying they demonstrated a positive change of the Ugandan governmentâ€™s attitude toward the Ituri militia groups.
Kutesa and Baya said the row would be resolved in the Bujumbura meeting.
Currently, Ugandaâ€™s mission to Kinshasa is led by charge dâ€™Affaires Onan, who operates in rented premises. Both the embassy and ambassadorâ€™s residence were plundered by Congolese soldiers in 1998. Kampala has asked Kinshasa to repair the properties in vain.
Congolese police guards have rented out the premises which now house a bar for local potent gin, sources said in Kinshasa.