MUSEVENI | UPDF | TSHISEKEDI
KAMPALA - DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday met President Yoweri Museveni and the two discussed joint military operations against rebels in the eastern part of the country, New Vision has learnt.
The meeting comes in the wake of a joint operation between Uganda and DR Congo against rebels who are taking advantage of the vast Congo forests to wreak havoc.
It also comes at a time when the two countries are planning to establish modern road infrastructure in the eastern part of DR Congo.
Foreign media quoted Kinshasa’s communications ministry saying a delegation from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), which included the commander of ground forces, had already arrived in Beni, Congo’s North Kivu province to establish a coordination centre for the two armies.
Sources who attended the meeting said the two parties also agreed that the UPDF offer security to Dott Services Limited, who have been contracted to construct over 200km of roads connecting Uganda to DR Congo.
Security sources who spoke to New Vision said DR Congo and Uganda share more than 760km of common borders.
Armed rebel groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which have been operating on the Congolese soil since 1995, use the vast Congo forests as bases to attack Uganda.
Others include Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which is the largest illegal foreign armed group operating in the DR Congo, Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo and Armed Forces of the Congolese People.
The rebel groups have been accused of wanton murders, rape, looting and anarchy in the area. Tshisekedi travelled to Uganda with a delegation that included officials from the National Roads Agency led by the chief executive officer, Herman Mutima, who were also in the country for a benchmarking visit.
Uganda, DR Congo and Dott Services are financing the construction of road projects, which will stretch over 200km from the border of Uganda to DR Congo as part of plans to boost trade between the two countries.
The road project will also boost investment and improve security in eastern DR Congo.
Tshisekedi’s request, sources said, comes in the wake of the February 18, 2021 visit by the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbadi Mbasu, who led a military delegation to the capital Kinshasa.
Mbadi reportedly told the meeting that there were negative forces along the border between the two countries and that the two armies were determined to crush them to permanently restore peace.
Mutima visited the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and met its excecutive director, Allen Kagina, together with a team of senior UNRA officials.
UNRA shared with their DR Congo counterparts their global best practices in national road network development and maintenance.
The Uganda-DR Congo road project is estimated to cost $334m (sh1.2 trillion) and will involve the construction and upgrading of the 80km road stretching from the KaseseMpondwe-Kasindi border section to Beni city in North Kivu.
Others are Beni-Butembo (54km) and Kisoro-BunaganaGoma (89km). The three roads are part the 1,181km road network interlinking the two countries, which President Museveni and Tshisekedi agreed to work on during the first Uganda-DR Congo joint business forum in November 2019.
In October last year, President Museveni defended the construction of the road into DR Congo, noting that Uganda was earning close to sh1.8 trillion per year from the sale of goods in Congo.
Responding to critics of the project, Museveni said the impassable roads in DR Congo were affecting business between the two countries.
The roads are being developed under a public-private partnership and Dott Services, which is a special purpose vehicle, is supposed to raise 60% of the total project costs, while DR Congo and Uganda each will pay 20%.
Part of the money invested will be recovered through a road toll tariff agreed upon by the DR Congo government and Dott Services.