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Uganda/DRC: Kampala offers security and roads for minerals

By Musinguzi Blanshe
Posted on Monday, 31 May 2021 16:59

Uganda's President Museveni attends a swearing-in ceremony for his sixth elective term in Kampala
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni rides on a military truck as he arrives for his swearing-in ceremony for the sixth elective term at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, May 12, 2021. Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

The diplomatic relationship between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been fluctuating -worsening and improving - during the 35 years that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been in power. But a new deal could steer the fairweather friendship towards a win-win situation.

It ebbed to its lowest point in 1998 after Uganda refused to withdraw its troops from parts of eastern DRC. For two decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda have been litigating at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the latter’s invasion between 1998 and 2003. The ICJ will soon give its ruling on how much Uganda must pay DRC in reparations.

As the international community pushed for an end to armed conflicts in eastern DRC in 2003, “suddenly, it was Rwanda and Uganda who were seen as the obstacles to peace,” Jason Stearns said in Dancing in the Glory of Monsters. This was because about a dozen rebel groups supported by these two countries were unwilling to engage in peace talks.

But now Uganda is going back to eastern DRC, not only to pacify the region, but also to invest in infrastructure development. In the new financial year that starts in July, Uganda will begin construction of 223km of bitumen roads in eastern Congo but also deploy soldiers to the region.