Ugandan troops under a peacekeeping mission in North Kivu province, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have denied fighting alongside the March 23 Movement (M23) in Masisi territory, North Kivu province.

On Friday, the militia coalition under their umbrella Wazalendo (patriots) who are fighting alongside Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers released a statement accusing Ugandan troops of fighting alongside M23 rebels in Mushaki in Masisi territory.  Wazalendo through their spokesperson, Jules Mulumba also claimed to have arrested and killed some Ugandan troops while on the front in Mushaki.  Mushaki town fell into M23 rebels’ hands this week after intense fighting.  

“Ugandan troops are fighting on the side of the RDF/M23 at Mushaki and foreign mercenaries have been arrested by our troops. Let’s all stand behind the young patriots. We are Wazalendo.Congo First” Wazalendo claims in a statement”.       

However, on Sunday, Ugandan troops through their spokesperson, Captain Ahmed Hassan Kato released a statement refuting the claims.  Captain Kato says that the claims are just mere propaganda and fallacy aimed at soiling the image of Ugandan troops so that it derail and divert the attention of its process of withdrawal from the mission as directed by the mandate. 

Kato says that Ugandan troops have never operated in Mushaki as it is being falsely claimed by Wazalendo because its mandate was to keep peace in Rutshuru territory specifically Bunagana, Mabenga, Tshengerero, and Kiwanja but not Masisi.  

Kato adds that the Ugandan troops are now in the process of safely withdrawing with their equipment from the area since they immensely respect the decisions made by the Heads of State Summits and the East African Community Chiefs of Defense Forces (CDFS) meetings which subsequently directed East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) to withdraw from DR Congo.     

“We wish to draw your attention to the misinformation trending on a Propagandist Social Media of the Wazalendo Militia Armed Group in DRC falsely accusing the UPDF Forces of conducting Military operations in Rutshuru territory amidst the expiry of the EACRF Mandate in DRC. They also told a lie that they are holding some of our soldiers captured as prisoners of war during the battle of Mushaki between the M23 rebels and the FARDC Forces,” Kato said.

On Saturday, M23 rebels advanced from Mushaki to Kirotshe, Ngungu, and Murambi towards Kagano.  M23 is also controlling from Mushaki to Kabaya 2 in the mountains overlooking the town of Bihambwe.  Wazalendo is also deployed in  Bihambwe town trying to prevent M23 from advancing toward the Rubaya mining area in Masisi. 

In March 2022, M23 led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga launched a war against the government.  The Congolese government accuses Rwanda of backing M23, but Rwanda and M23 strongly deny it.  The rebels claim to fight against bad leadership in DR Congo based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.

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