UPDF to withdraw from DR Congo in two weeks – Muhoozi
By Racheal Nuwahereza
Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the UPDF Commander of the Land Forces has revealed that Uganda will withdraw its troops from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it has for the last 6 months been pursuing ADF rebels.
Muhoozi intimated that the original agreement signed with the Congolese government was for the operation in pursuit of ADF rebels to last for six months and as such, it ends in two weeks’ time.
“Operation Shujaa will officially cease in about two weeks according to our original agreement. It was supposed to last for six months. Unless I get further instructions from our Commander in Chief or CDF, I will withdraw all our troops from DRC in two weeks,” Lt Gen Muhoozi said via his official twitter handle on Tuesday.
Muhoozi however clarified that decision is susceptible to change if the presidents of the two countries; H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and H.E Felix Tshisekedi who are the ultimate authorities decide to extend the agreement, the joint forces of UPDF and FARDC will be happy to keep participating in the operation to eliminate ADF.
For several years, the ADF has operated in Eastern DRC’s volatile North Kivu province which has since 1998 been a battle ground for various armed rival ethnic groups in the country.
The province consists of the cities of Goma, Butembo and Beni as well as territories of Beni, Tondoli, Lubero, Masisi, Yayuwa and Rutshuru among others.
Following the arrest of Jamil Mukulu in 2015, Musa Baluku, consolidated power and served as the senior ADF Islamic legal official prompting the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, under the US government to designate the ADF as the deadliest terrorist group operating in eastern DRC.
The group is also blamed for the 2021 bomb attacks in Kampala that left over seven people dead.
This prompted Uganda to seek permission from the DRC President Tshisekedi to allow troops into his territory in a joint operation with FADRC forces to wipe out the ADF rebel and terrorist group.
In November 2021, the UPDF under the commanded of Maj Gen Kayanja Muhanga launched air and artillery attacks on ADF camps in the thick Eastern DRC forests in an operation, code named, “Operation Shujaa“.
The first offensive against the rebel group was opened using Nobili -Kamango- Mukakati route and advanced deep into Virunga impenetrable forest dislodging ADF terrorists in several camps including their stronghold of Kambi Ya Yua where several documents and military attires were recovered.
The second route was opened from Kasindi to Beni, Nobili- R. Semliki Bridge and in the third one from Burasi to Boga, the ADF airfield was seized by the UPDF.
UPDF combat vehicles then crossed into Burasi using the newly installed ferry at Haibale Landing site on River Semliki to cover the entire triangle of death.
The joint forces of the UPDF and FADRC have been able to either arrest or kill key ADF commanders and fighters and dismantled their hideouts in DRC.