KAMPALA (Reuters) -Uganda will pull troops from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in two weeks, the military said on Tuesday, after a joint operation against Islamist insurgents since late last year.
President Yoweri Museveni’s government sent hundreds of soldiers into east Congo in December to join the Congolese military in an assault on the bases of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
“Operation Shujaa will officially cease in about 2 weeks according to our original agreement,” tweeted Uganda’s land forces commander Muhoozi Kainerugaba, using the code name Shujaa which is Swahili for “hero”.
“It was supposed to last for 6 months. Unless I get further instructions from our Commander-in-Chief or CDF (chief of defence forces), I will withdraw all our troops from DRC in 2 weeks,” added Kainerugaba, who is also Museveni’s son.
But Congo government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said later on Tuesday that the terms and timeline of Uganda’s withdrawal would need to be agreed by both countries’ leaders before it could go ahead.
“Before we decide to end what has been convened there will be chief of staff meetings to evaluate the situation,” Muyaya told a press briefing.
Uganda’s deployment of at least 1,700 soldiers constituted the largest foreign intervention in Congo in over a decade, apart from a United Nations peacekeeping operation.
The ADF began as an uprising in Uganda but has been based in Congo since the late 1990s. It pledged allegiance to Islamic State in mid-2019 and is accused of killing hundreds of villagers in frequent raids over the past two years.
There was no reason given for the planned Ugandan withdrawal or update on the status of the operation against the ADF.
Uganda blamed the group for a triple suicide bombing in its capital Kampala on Nov. 16, which killed seven people, including the bombers.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Additional reporting by Stanys Bujakera in Kinshasa; Editing by William Maclean, Andrew Cawthorne and Jonathan Oatis)