Legislators Question UPDF Operations in Congo


Legislators have tasked the government to give a clear report about the military incursion by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), saying President Museveni did not seek the approval of Parliament as mandated by the Constitution.
Yesterday, UPDF spokesperson revealed that the Force had launched airstrikes against Ugandan born Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebels who have been operating in the eastern part of the Congo.
Government has blamed the ADF for causing insecurity, including suicide bombings in the capital, Kampala.
The news raised questions and concerns from the legislators, who queried why the President did not consult Parliament before undertaking a military incursion that could have effects on the country, especially with the tainted history of Uganda’s involvement in DR Congo.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, who chaired yesterday’s plenary, said: “We need a statement on that and the government should really come out clean (on the matter).”
Article 124 of the Constitution on the Declaration of a state of war requires the President to seek Parliaments approval by written resolution. In the event this is not done, the Constitution mandates the President to give a report to Parliament within 72 hours.
Mr Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP, who raised the matter first at floor of Parliament yesterday, questioned whether the deployment was not being done in contempt of Parliament.
“Yesterday morning, the UPDF spokesperson confirmed to the country that UPDF soldiers have begun engaging ADF rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, yet, the deployment has not been authorised by this House,” he stated.
Mr Zaake added: “Members, as you recall last time UPDF entered DRC, they looted minerals and Uganda was ordered by the International Court of Justice to pay DRC over Shs10 trillion as compensation. I think we may incur more bills of an invasion that Parliament has not authorised in the first place. Right Honourable Speaker, government may (need) to come and explain this anomaly.”
Mr Jonathan Ebwalu, the Soroti West Division MP, said it was important to keep Parliament in the know about the deployment, especially in light of the current terror attacks in the city and amidst media reports about the ADF crossing from the DRC through Kisoro, a town in western Uganda.
“Is it possible that the minister responsible could consider requesting the authorisation of this Parliament under Article 210 (d) to allow the UPDF deploy in Congo because it is very clear that the beehive of the ADF is in Congo, so, the UPDF could ask the authorisation of this Parliament so that we allow you to deploy in Congo,” Mr Ebwalu said.
Mr Ebwalu, reminiscing of when Uganda entered Somalia for a peace-keeping mission, said such necessary causes are often misused when government is not held accountable.
“Admittedly, this was a strategic and noble cause and since (then), the UPDF has kept its presence in Somalia for 14 years running. The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs was required to regularly update Parliament on the situation of Somalia. That, however, has not been done in a very long time.
As Parliament of Uganda, we would want to understand; have we achieved our mission following our deployment in Somalia? Do we still need to be in Somalia or it is time for us now to come back home and do other national assignments?” he said.
Francis Mwijukye, the Buhweju County MP, wondered why government did not consult Parliament yet the incursion will further burden the taxpayer. It is not clear where the financing was secured.
“The actions of the army in Congo have repercussions on the economy and taxpayer of Uganda. So I would expect that before such an action is taken, Parliament is informed. We need answers as Parliament and an explanation as to why we are going to fight in Congo without briefing Parliament. You can imagine whether they will come to us and ask if they need more money after having used money for actions without notice to Parliament. The Minister for Defence should come to Parliament and tell us why this action was done without prior notice to Parliament and then why we as taxpayers have to bear such a burden of a Force that prides in fighting everywhere they want to go,” Mr Mwijukye said.
In response, Government Chief Whip and Ruhinda North County MP Thomas Tayebwa said: “We are engaging the authorities in DR Congo over the issue of the ADF. We know why we are engaging, we are focusing on that, and we can’t go beyond that.
On the issue of Somalia, also, whenever it is necessary, we shall be reporting to the House [on the matter].”


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