Uganda to train DRC troops

2010-09-21 20:01

Kampala - Uganda has offered to train troops of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its former foe, army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said on Tuesday.

"It is the first time that Uganda is offering her military academies to train Congolese government soldiers," Kulayigye told AFP, adding the offer followed a two-day bilateral meeting that ended on Sunday in Kampala.

The meeting was between Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and his Congolese counterpart, Charles Mwando.

In recent years Kampala has trained a plethora of Congolese rebel groups that fought in the DRC against the Kinshasa government, other proxy groups or amongst themselves.

Kulayigye said it was too early to talk about the training timetable or the number of troops that will participate.

Military academies

"Uganda offered training space at its military academies to DRC forces. The timetable is to be done by the Congolese when they are able to implement the decision," he said, adding that troop numbers still need to be worked out.

The meeting at the weekend was a follow-up to the Ngurdoto agreement signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila, in Tanzania in 2007 to normalise relations between the two countries.

The Ugandan and DRC armies are conducting joint operations against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Congolese troops fighting rebels from the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) in eastern DRC, close to the Ugandan border, are benefitting from Ugandan intelligence.

The two ministers, who will meet again in November, agreed to do everything possible to neutralise the LRA and the ADF, a joint statement said.

In another recent sign of willingness to co-operate, the Ugandan government in June arrested a rebel chief operating in eastern DRC, Gadi Ngabo, the head of the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

Ugandan troops and their rebel allies invaded DRC twice, in 1996 and again in 1998. Even after they withdrew in large numbers over the period 2002-2003, Ugandan troops have made numerous incursions into DRC, mostly in pursuit of LRA rebels.