Ugandan troops to leave DRC on May 31

Ugandan forces present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of a joint operation against the ADF rebel group must withdraw by May 31, unless the two countries reach a new agreement, Ugandan military officials announced Tuesday.
Uganda has been deploying troops in eastern DRC since December 1 as part of a military operation with the Congolese army against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels, accused by Congo of massacring civilians and by Kampala of attacks claimed by the jihadist organization Islamic State (EI).
No details on the number of troops involved and the duration of the mission had been revealed until now.
“Operation Shujaa will officially end in about two weeks, according to our original agreement. It was supposed to last six months,” wrote army chief Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba on Twitter, using the operation’s code name, which means “the strong one” in Swahili.
“Unless I receive further instructions from our commander-in-chief or the CDF, I will withdraw all our troops from the DRC in two weeks,” added the general, who is also President Museveni’s son.
In another tweet, he then clarified that “to be clear, Operation Shujaa will continue even for another six months if both Presidents Museveni and Tshisekedi decide to extend it, they are the ultimate authorities”.
Ugandan Defense Minister Vincent Ssempijja confirmed to AFP that “the bilateral agreement with the DRC on Operation Shujaa ends on May 31.
“Our respective bodies are in consultation and assessing the situation and any future military cooperation with the DRC after May 31 will depend on what both countries (…) will have achieved in the operation,” he added.
Originally a coalition of Ugandan armed groups, the largest of which was composed of Muslims opposed to the regime of President Yoweri Museveni, the ADF has been operating in eastern Congo since 1995.
They are considered the most deadly of the multiple armed groups operating in the region, responsible for the massacre of thousands of civilians, kidnappings, looting.
Since April 2019, some of their attacks have been claimed by the EI, which refers to the group as its “Central African Province” (Iscap). Last March, the United States placed the ADF among the “terrorist groups” affiliated with the EI jihadists.
This operation has aroused the suspicion of some Congolese who fear that the army of this neighbor, which, like Rwanda, is accused of having contributed greatly to the destabilization of the eastern DRC for decades, will settle in for the long term.