and Joyce Namutebi
UGANDA might be forced to send its troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo to flush out remnants of the negative rebel forces which are trying to destabilise the country, defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga has again warned.
Kiyonga named the negative rebel forces as the Peoples Redemption Army (PRA), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Lord Resistance Army, NALU, the Interahamwe. He said they are estimated to be about 500.
â€œUganda has suggested to Congo that UPDF enters Congo and work with the Congolese army to clean up the mess caused by those negative forces but we have not received a response. What we are seeing are provocations from these forces,â€ the minister told the committee on defence at Parliament yesterday.
The army had a duty to defend Ugandans.
â€œIf Congo and the United Nations can not stop these negative force from attacking us, the UPDF will do it and we shall do it within the law of this country.â€
Kiyonga said Uganda had on several occasions suggested solutions to the problem.
â€œWe are talking. But if they (Congolese) are not listening, we have the capacity and the mandate to defend our people. I need to assure our people so that they do not lose hope in their Government,â€ Kiyonga said while responding to a question raised by Kanungu woman MP Jacqueline Kyatuhairwe.
Kyatuhairwe wanted to know the steps the ministry was taking to beef up security in her constituency following last weekâ€™s attack that left three people dead.
She said her people lived in worry after the attacker called a Police station and threatened to launch another attack.
Kiyonga observed that the discovery of oil had caused anxiety in many circles, but he gave assurances that there would be adequate security in the area.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Kiyonga said the attack on Lake Albert was carried out by Congolese soldiers, while that on Butugota was by the Interahamwe.
On the disputed Rukwanzi Island, Kiyonga explained that a technical team would be put in place to establish whether it is in Uganda or Congo.
â€œWe believe Rukwanzi is in Uganda.â€
He hastened to add that the Government would not allow anybody to frustrate the oil exploration.
â€œWe have asked the Congolese to work with us on oil prospecting. We are ready to share information with them on what we have done so far,â€ he said.
Heritage and Tullow Oil, the companies currently operating in Uganda, had also applied to the Congolese government to also operate on their soil, minister Kiyonga noted.
'Uganda might be forced to enter Congo'