By NANGAYI GUYSON
Kampala, Uganda - In a plea to President Felix Tshisekedi, a group of legislators and civil society leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo accuse Uganda of aiding the M23 rebels in their advance.
They also want Kinshasa to put an end to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels' year-old joint military onslaught, code-named Shujaa, started last November by the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC).
Henry Oryem Okello, the state minister for international relations in Kampala, called the allegations that Uganda had engaged in subversion against Tshisekedi's government "hogwash, garbage," and said they were not backed up by any evidence.
"The claims are untrue. That is nonsense, garbage! He pressed the accusers to present any material that could be used to support Uganda and declared that there was not a shred of proof.
Mr. Oryem-Okello continued, "Those (accusers) are publicity seekers," arguing that a tranquil Congo is advantageous to Uganda. They should carry out some research and gather proof. Uganda does not back M23 (rebels). In eastern DRC, Uganda is aiming for complete peace. Following the severing of diplomatic ties with Rwanda, which Congo accuses of supporting M23, Kampala has been named negatively.
The DRC removed Rwanda's ambassador and barred the national airline, RwandAir, from using its airspace. Kigali, though, refutes any charges of plotting highly regarded.
The improvement to bitumen of 223 kilometers of roads connecting Beni, Goma, and Butembo in eastern DRC has been put on hold ten months after the governments of Congo and Uganda handed the project over to the Ugandan contractor Dott Services.
It is unknown if the business is compensated after putting equipment in place for the launch in December 2021.
According to some reports, a last-minute demand by some officials in Kinshasa that Dott Services pay taxes and subcontract the engineering work, totally or partially, to a Congolese company caused unexpected difficulties for the $330 million project, which was to be funded by Uganda.
There were further negative events as well.
Particularly Ugandan exporters are counting the losses as a result of M23's July conquest of Bunagana, a significant customs station on the DR Congo side, and the rebels' subsequent restriction on cross-border trade, despite the fact that the DRC gives Uganda the largest market share in the region.
But after a flurry of activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Monday, including public statements and street protests in Beni City, where protesters carried placards jointly denouncing President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for their alleged support for M23 rebels, this economic fortune orbited in the risk zone.
According to Mr. Pepin Kavota, head of the civil society in Beni, "On the other side in Rutshuru, Uganda is assisting the M23 rebels with Rwanda, but when you come here in the Beni territory, there is some type of hypocrisy."
According to Mr. Kavota's remark from Politico Magazine, "It is on that basis that we suggest that our country must break the diplomatic relations not only with Rwanda but also with Uganda."
A week before members of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on DRC visit for a firsthand assessment of the situation there, there is a commotion in Congo.
According to sources briefed on the state of regional security, Congo's suspicion of Uganda increased after Kampala signed a military cooperation agreement with Kigali in May of this year, according to which Rwanda reportedly established an intelligence coordination presence at the headquarters of Uganda's Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence in Kisoro, a town in Uganda that borders the DRC.
The Congo's Minister of Communication, Patrick Muyaya, stated earlier on Monday that they were looking into whether Uganda was aiding the rebels who were making gains on the battlefield.
The M23 is a rebel group that was established in 2012. Its concerns include political and marginalization allegations made by the Tutsi, a tribe that is widely dispersed, in particular.
Ineffective fulfillment of agreements made with the administration of previous DRC President Joseph Kabila gave rise to the current animosity, which the government of President Tshisekedi has labeled the rebels as "terrorists."
In response to M23 rebel activity in the nation's east, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi called on young people to create "vigilance groups" on Thursday.
In a speech that was aired on national television, Tshisekedi asserted once more that the M23 was supported by Rwanda, which he charged with harboring "expansionist goals."
The M23, a predominantly Congolese Tutsi faction, started fighting again in late 2021 after going years without engaging in hostilities. They claimed the Democratic Republic of the Congo's government had broken a deal to incorporate its members into the army.
Regional ties in central Africa have become unstable as a result of the group's rebirth, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbor Rwanda of supporting the militia.
According to Tshisekedi, Rwanda has the goal of "appropriating our minerals."
In order to accomplish this, he claimed, "it is attempting to destabilize eastern Congo in order to establish a lawless zone to satiate its criminal appetites."
He noted that there hasn't been "any tangible result" from diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions.
He claimed that "sacrifice" and "the engagement of all (the nation's) daughters and all of its sons" would be necessary in the fight.
"I ask the youth to organize themselves into vigilance groups in response to the strong demand from the youth with a view to prop up, accompany, and support our military forces."
Tshisekedi reaffirmed his plea for young people to join the military while urging them not to "stigmatize Rwandophone groups."