Uganda Peoples Defence Forces has tabled a budget of Ush89.7 billion ($25.6 million) that is meant to facilitate its operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, signalling the army’s plan to stay there longer.
This came to light on Monday as top Ministry of Defence officials presented the budget before the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee of Parliament, explaining that the money will fund the ongoing operation against the Allied Democratic Force (ADF) in Congo for 12 months.
The army chiefs clarified that the 12 months begin on July 2022 and do not include the time between now and July, as well as the nearly two-month period that the force has already spent in the war codenamed “Operation Shujaa”.
“As per this budget that we are submitting, it will last 12 months,” The UPDF Joint Chief of Staff Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda said in response to MPs’ concerns on how long the operation is meant to last.
“Today if the ADF decided to surrender, it would end now. An operational matter is very fluid, so it depends,” he added.
Last month, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi indicated that UPDF’s stay in Congo would be brief, based on the memorandum of understanding between the Uganda and Congolese forces which states that the operation is reviewed after two months.
“With our Parliament duly informed, I will limit these operations, the presence of Ugandan army on our territory, to the amount of time that is strictly necessary,” he said in his state of the nation address in December.
The money the UPDF is seeking will be used to purchase logistics for the war, including military equipment, salaries, clothing and food, as well as medical and communication equipment.
The money is part of the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs budget for financial year 2022/23. The Defence ministry submitted a budget of Ush6.7 trillion ($1.9 billion) but the Ministry of Finance revised it to Ush3.8 trillion ($1.1 billion).
On November 30, 2021, UPDF launched airstrikes and artillery bombs from its territory to target ADF camps inside DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, and the next day the army deployed its mountain brigade in a joint operation with the Congolese army.
Uganda deployed in eastern Congo after a series of terrorist attacks by suspected ADF within its capital Kampala, in which at least five people died.
The army reports that it has captured at least six ADF camps and 45 combatants, including a top commander. It also says it has killed more than 100 rebels, while 61 surrendered.
The ADF is a Ugandan terrorist group formed in 1995, but operates from eastern DRC where it plans terrorist attacks on Uganda and Congolese communities. In recent years, it has become affiliated to the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria, renaming itself ISIS Central Africa Province.
In a period of three weeks between October 24 and November 16 last year, the ADF is suspected to have carried out many deadly bomb attacks in Kampala, killing at least five people and injuring many others.