Legislators in DRC have accused Uganda of working with the rebels and called for the termination of Operation Shujaa.
A group of Congolese parliamentarians and civil society activists have petitioned President Felix Tshisekedi to sever diplomatic relations with Uganda, accusing it of supporting advancing M23 rebels.
They also want Kinshasa to terminate the year-old joint military offensive by Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), code-named Shujaa, launched last November to annihilate the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels.
In Kampala, State Minister for International Relations, Mr Henry Oryem Okello, dismissed the claims that Uganda was involved in subversion against Tshisekedi’s government as “hogwash, rubbish” and unsupported with evidence.
“The allegations are false. That is hogwash, rubbish! There is no iota of evidence,” he said yesterday, challenging the accusers to produce any incriminating evidence against Uganda.
Arguing that a peaceful Congo is beneficial to Uganda, minister Oryem-Okello added: “Those (accusers) are attention seekers. They should do some research and bring evidence … Uganda doesn’t support M23 (rebels). Uganda is seeking total peace in eastern DRC.
The adverse naming of Kampala comes months after Congo cut diplomatic ties with Rwanda it accuses of aiding M23, expelled its ambassador and stopped RwandAir, the country’s national carrier, from DRC airspace. Kigali denies allegations of any machinations.
Highly-placed Uganda government and security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, said Kampala had been briefed that Kinshasa was contemplating similar actions, including blocking Uganda Airlines’ lucrative flights there.
The flare up in violence has stalled the upgrade to bitumen of 223 kilometres of roads linking Beni, Goma and Butembo in eastern DRC, 10 months after the governments of Congo and Uganda handed over the works to Ugandan construction firm, Dott Services.
It is unclear if the company is being paid after placing equipment on site during the December 2021 launch.
This publication understands that the $330 million project, to be bankrolled by Uganda, separately encountered unexpected headwinds following a last-minute demand by some officials in Kinshasa that Dott Services pays taxes and sub-contracts the engineering works, fully or partially, to a Congolese company.