Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga has questioned the relevance of the East African Community-EAC in pacifying member states following the repeated anarchy in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.
On April 8th, 2022, DRC signed the Treaty of accession becoming the youngest member of the EAC bloc, a regional group comprising Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.
Mpuuga argues that the renewed mayhem in the Eastern DRC is being orchestrated by multiple armed groups terrorizing civilians and hampering the restoration of long-term peace while the EAC has continued to look on helplessly.
Speaking to URN in an interview, Mpuuga rallied the East Africans to evaluate the EAC mandate, describing it as a ‘stocking shop’ being exploited by political merchants for selfish gains.
Mpuuga said that while they don’t want to sound ‘unnecessarily controversial’ following the accusations of DRC against Rwanda for undermining her sovereignty and fuelling internal conflict, the Opposition will continue to monitor the developments in the war-ravaged country.
Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo, the former Agago County legislator and Leader of Opposition in Parliament weighed in accusing the EAC of being part of the problem the DRC is currently facing. “They are part of the problem with too much self-interest from those ruling some of the countries. With conflict of interest, they cannot pacify themselves,” Prof Ogenga told URN.
Prof Ogenga illustration relates to the DRC’s 1999 case against Uganda, which was renewed in 2005 before the International Court of Justice-ICJ. DRC accused Uganda of war crimes and crimes against humanity in its mineral-rich Ituri Province between 1998-2003.
On February 9th, 2022, about 17 years later, the UN court which is mandated to settle disputes between states in accordance with international law, passed a judgment in favor of DRC and ordered Uganda to pay USD 325 million, an equivalent of Shillings 1.216 trillion in reparations.
Both Mpuuga and Prof Ogenga observed that while the EAC was established 55 years ago in 1967, the countries are stronger as individual member states and are quick at sending troops on peacekeeping missions outside their territories but too weak to pacify themselves.
Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Burundi among other countries have been in Somalia under the African Union Mission – AMISOM. But analysts view their success so far as limited. The forces in alliance with the national armies repulsed militant Al-Shabaab from Southern Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu but have failed to do the same back home.
On Monday, the EAC presidents met in Nairobi to devise ways of ending heavy fighting in DRC that has renewed decades-old hostilities between Kinshasa and Kigali, with the DRC blaming bordering Rwanda for the resurgence of the March 23 Movement-M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army that has forced thousands to flee their homes.
During the meeting attended by member states, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who is the current EAC Chairperson called for the deployment of a regional military standby force in troubled eastern DRC to restore peace but DRC want the participation of Rwanda revoked.