Uganda will be the third country to deploy troops after contingents from Kenya and Burundi arrived in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Uganda’s military said Monday it will send 1,000 troops to the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by the end of this month to join a regional force mandated to end decades of instability.
The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC), to which the DRC joined this year, agreed in April to create a force to fight militias in the east.
Uganda will be the third country to deploy troops after contingents from Kenya and Burundi arrived in the area, Uganda’s army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said. But their involvement has been opposed by some activist groups and officials because of Uganda’s role in the conflict in the DRC.
In September, Uganda paid Congo 65 million dollarsthe first tranche of reparations worth $325 million for losses caused by Ugandan troops occupying Congolese territory in the 1990s.
The eastern DRC is already home to hundreds of Ugandan troops, who were deployed almost a year ago under a separate bilateral agreement to help track down the ISIL-affiliated group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Despite billions of dollars spent on one of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping forces, more than 120 armed groups continue to operate in large parts of eastern Congo, including M23 rebels, whom Congo has repeatedly accused of supporting Rwanda. Kigali denies the allegations.
The UN says it found evidence contrary to Kigali’s claims.
The M23 has staged a major offensive this year, seizing territory, displacing thousands of people from their homes and sparking a diplomatic row between Congo and Rwanda.
On Friday, the EAC said Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame had agreed on the need for M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured territory.