By Raymond Baguma
The Congolese army has appointed a new commander for the operation against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels following the death of Major General Ambamba Bahuma.
Brigadier Emmanuel Lombe now becomes the sector commander in North Kivu to fight remnants of the Ugandan rebels with bases in eastern DR Congo.
ADF has been fighting to overthrow the Uganda government since the late 1990s. The group was defeated and remnants fled to DRC where they are accused of committing atrocities against the local civilian population, which thousands seeking refuge in Uganda. According to the Congolese authorities, ADF has since 2010 kidnapped more than 800 people in eastern Congo.
The spokesman of the Congolese army (FARDC), Gen. Leon Kasonga announced on Sunday that Gen. Bahuma suffered a heart attack on Thursday night in Kasese where he was taking part in the routine joint border security meeting. He was airlifted to Nakasero Hospital in Kampala but later transferred to Pretoria, South Africa where he was pronounced dead on Saturday.
According to Radio Okapi, Brig. Lombe on Tuesday met FARDC officers and UN commanders in Goma, as his inaugural meeting since taking over command from the deceased commander. The meeting was intended to allow the new commander gauge the security challenges.
Now, Brig. Lombe assumes command of Operation “Sokola” (Lingala meaning for “Clean”) against the ADF rebels in Beni, and will continue the operation launched last January by his predecessor, backed by the UN Intervention Brigade.
Quoting local sources, Radio Okapi said although weakened, the ADF rebels continue to attack Congolese army and UN Intervention Brigade positions in eastern Congo.
Prior to his appointment Brig. Lombe was involved in the Congolese operation dubbed “Rudiya 2”, against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and was based in Dungu, in the Orientale Province from 2011 to 2013.
Following the death of Gen. Bahuma, the UPDF second division commander Brig. Peter Elwelu described the incident as very unfortunate.
Gen. Bahuma who commanded the Congolese troops in North Kivu, played an important role in the defeat of ADF. In May this year, the Congolese forces under Bahuma’s command, attacked and destroyed four ADF camps in Beni, including the rebel headquarters.
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New commander appointed to fight ADF in eastern DRC