According to two diplomatic sources, Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has agreed to a coordinated operation with Uganda’s army against Islamist rebels accused of suicide attacks in Kampala this month.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Nov. 16 incident, which killed seven people, including the three bombers, and injured scores more. The Islamic State’s local branch, known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), claimed responsibility.
Some Congolese are concerned about the anticipated cross-border operation, which has yet to be formally publicized. They recall Uganda’s participation in the horrific civil conflicts that concluded in 2003.
Tshisekedi notified the UN peacekeeping force on Friday that he had authorized military cooperation with Uganda against the ADF, but provided no other information, according to a senior U.N. official. The second diplomatic source confirmed this, but provided no other specifics.
Tina Salama, Tshisekedi’s deputy spokesman, tweeted: “The best thing would have been (would have been) to wait for the official statement of the Congolese government, which will be made shortly to clarify the situation.”
Ugandan officials declined to comment, but its foreign minister said last week that his country had the right to pursue the ADF in Congo, where the militia has been based for two decades and has been blamed for dozens of massacres in recent years.
“We have the right to self-defense, as well as hot pursuit. We have the ability to respond in self-defense and enter the DRC “State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem said Reuters.
Kinshasa is still demanding more than $13 billion in reparations from Kampala for Uganda’s role in the violence from 1998 to 2003.
Denis Mukwege, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work treating female victims of violence, said the decision was unacceptable.
“No to arsonist-firefighters, the same errors would result in the same fatal consequences,” the Congolese gynaecologist tweeted.
According to Juvenal Munubo, a member of Congo’s legislative Defence and Security Commission, Uganda’s presence in Congo might rekindle the rivalry between Kampala and Kigali.