- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004


KAMPALA, Uganda — The Ugandan army announced yesterday that it had deployed an unspecified number of troops along its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent incursions by “negative elements” based there.

“We have made a precautionary deployment along the border on our side, especially in areas we think are possible crossing points for some negative elements based in eastern Congo,” army spokesman Maj. Shaban Bantariza told Agence France-Presse, referring to Ugandan rebel groups purportedly based in eastern Congo.

During a devastating 1998-2003 war in Congo, neighboring Rwanda and Uganda sent thousands of troops there to back rebels.

Referring to the Ugandan rebels in Congo, Mr. Bantariza said: “They are not a great threat, but we are following them and picking up some of them one by one.”

The Ugandan government says a new rebel group — the People’s Redemption Army (PRA), said to have been formed by renegade Ugandan army officers — was preparing to attack Uganda from eastern Congo.

“They have taken advantage of the nonexistence of the state in much of eastern DRC to move around, though we have not got any information that they have bases there and that they are in any military formation that points to an attack,” he added.

Last week, the army paraded captives it said were PRA members arrested in northern Uganda. Soon afterward, a Rwandan diplomat accused of working with the PRA was expelled from Uganda, prompting Rwanda to throw out a Ugandan official working in the embassy in Kigali.

Also yesterday, a spokesman in Kinshasa for President Joseph Kabila said the Congolese leader, after meeting the ambassadors to Congo of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, has decided to send additional soldiers to the troubled eastern part of the country.

“10,000 extra men from the DRC army will be deployed in the coming days in North Kivu,” spokesman Kudura Kasongo said.

Mr. Kasongo said the troops would maintain security along the DRC’s sprawling eastern borders by preventing Hutu rebels from neighboring Rwanda from entering Congolese territory and by dealing with other contingencies.

Eastern Congo is an ethnic powder keg that was volatile before and after the 1998-2003 war that claimed an estimated 3 million lives through conflict, famine and disease.

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