President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has commended the strong and harmonious relationship between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Museveni expressed his satisfaction with the improved bilateral relations between the two countries today during a meeting with Members of Parliament from the Ituri Province Committee at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi.
“We are pleased to know that H.E. Felix Tshisekedi recognizes the bond between the Ugandan and Congolese people,” President Museveni remarked.
He highlighted the positive development, noting that in the past, leaders like Laurent Kabila and Mobutu Sese Seko showed little concern for fostering this connection. However, President Museveni emphasized that under the leadership of President Tshisekedi, the DRC has been integrated into the East African Community, bridging the geographical and political gap that existed before.
President Museveni also welcomed the prospect of joint efforts with the DRC to enhance economic growth, particularly through infrastructure development. He expressed support for the construction of the Nebbi-Goli to Bunya Road, which would boost trade and prosperity in both countries. Additionally, the President pledged to collaborate on the construction of the Semuliki Bridge, to facilitate the smooth movement of goods between Uganda and the DRC.
Notably, President Museveni also acknowledged the return of relative peace in the Ituri Province, attributing this accomplishment to the combined efforts of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Congolese Army.
Their successful operations have significantly weakened the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, pushing them back as far as Mombasa.
However, President Museveni advised the Congolese army to establish Local Defense Forces to protect the local population against insurgent attacks.
He emphasized the importance of fighting for and safeguarding the wellbeing of the people, suggesting that the Local Defense Forces could effectively provide protection to vulnerable communities.
Furthermore, President Museveni encouraged President Tshisekedi to engage in peace talks with the M23 rebels, as he believes that inclusivity is crucial for achieving lasting peace in the DRC. He expressed the view that all factions should be brought together to work towards a unified future.
In addition, President Museveni welcomed the proposal to establish consulates for both countries, with one consulate in Arua and another in Bunya. This move would facilitate closer diplomatic ties and enable efficient communication and cooperation between Uganda and the DRC.
The nine (9) member delegation led by Hon. Draza Atsule Jean-Claude, expressed their satisfaction with the positive impact of the improved relations between Uganda and the DRC on the Ituri Province.
They attributed the restoration of peace in the region to the combined efforts of the UPDF and the Congolese forces, who successfully defeated and pushed back the rebels.