By Emmy Allio
Uganda has again warned the DR Congo over the activities of LRA rebels in Garamba National Park.
The Government also challenged the UN Observer Mission in Congo, MONUC, to contain the Uganda rebels.
While denying that its troops entered Congo in pursuit of Joseph Konyâ€™s rebels, the UPDF warned that it would join the SPLA in pursuit of the rebels in Congo if they re-entered southern Sudan.
Meanwhile, a MONUC spokesman in Kinshasa, Kemal Saiki, on Saturday said after verification, reports of the UPDF incursion into Congo were credible.
Acting UPDF spokesman Major Felix Kulayigye said, â€œWe challenge MONUC to contain the LRA and if they do not, should LRA re-enter southern Sudan, attack and withdraw back to Garamba, and in the event of hot pursuit by SPLA, then we are under obligation to assist SPLA.â€
â€œWe can assist SPLA by virtue of an agreement we signed last November, which provides for joint operations against LRA.â€
The UPDF also demanded that Congo parades the Ugandan soldier that it said it captured on Wednesday in Adau, near the north-eastern Congolese town of Aba.
The MONUC spokesman said peace-keepers found a â€œconvergence of testimoniesâ€ about the uniformed soldiers near Aba, a town close to Congoâ€™s border with Uganda and Sudan.
Uganda has denied its soldiers were involved in an incidence last Wednesday at Adau where the Congolese army claimed to have clashed with them, capturing one Ugandan soldier.
Kinshasa media yesterday quoted government sources saying, â€œThe Ugandan troops who came into the Congo are well armed and have tanks. There is fighting in Garamba National Park.â€ The sources added, â€œTheir firepower is superior to ours in the area.â€
Another UN source in Kinshasa said, â€œRangers say they heard heavy mortar fire and two villages near Mount Bagunda have emptied in the last few days.â€
The SPLA has said its troops pursued LRA into Congo territory. Congoâ€™s Maj. Gen. Padiri Bulenda, head of the army in Orientale province, on Thursday said SPLA entered Congo.
Ugandan intelligence sources said despite MONUCâ€™s tough statements on LRA, there were only four MONUC observers in Aba last Thursday, and that the rest of MONUC forces had withdrawn to Bunia, 400kms south of Aba. The sources said the Congolese army presence around Garamba was â€œthinâ€ and had never attacked LRA there.
In a statement on Saturday, the Ugandan foreign affairs ministry refuted statements that Kinshasa had protested Ugandaâ€™s alleged incursion.
â€œThe Government of Uganda has not received any protest note or any other official communication from the Government of the DRC regarding the said allegation,â€ the statement said.
On Friday, the Ugandan media quoted the foreign ministry in Kinshasa as saying the Ugandan army from southern Sudan, riding in two vehicles and armed with cannons, crossed into Adau, 17km from the border with Sudan. The alleged statement said a Ugandan soldier was killed before the rest retreated to the Sudan border.
However, Ugandaâ€™s foreign ministry statement dispelled suggestions that Uganda might re-enter Congo. â€œThe ministry reaffirms Ugandaâ€™s commitment to all efforts aimed at ensuring security and stability in our region. We continue to participate actively in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission, the Joint Permanent Commissions, the Joint Verification Mechanisms, the Joint Fora that bring together our chiefs of defence forces and intelligence chiefs.
â€œThe Government also respects and remains committed to bilateral, regional and international instruments to which Uganda is signatory and is, therefore, bound.â€ On Friday, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa rubbished reports that the UPDF clashed with the Congolese army.