The Director of Information at the Land Forces headquarters and the office of the senior presidential adviser for Special Operations Lt Col Chris Magezi spoke to the UPDF Commander Land Forces Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba about Operation Shujaa. Gen Kainerugaba is the overall commander of the operation.
Below is the transcript of the interview.
Good afternoon General, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces launched Operation Shujaa two months ago against ADF terrorists situated in eastern DRC. What is your assessment of what has been achieved to date in that operation?
Good evening ndugu Magezi... Operation Shujaa, which means Operation Hero... has been very, very successful. We are meeting all our objectives, and... I think we have broken the back of the enemy.
But the operation continues.
As we understand, the operation in DRC is a joint operation, together with DRC counterparts FARDC. What is the level of cooperation, considering the two armies might subscribe to different military doctrines?
Our cooperation with FARDC, which is the army of DRC, has been very good. They are very good partners... It's an excellent cooperation.
So, we are working very well with them and we thank the two presidents -- President [Yoweri] Museveni and President [Félix] Tshisekedi -- for helping us achieve this level of cooperation.
One of the stated goals for operation Shujaa was to facilitate infrastructure projects, particularly in the eastern part of the DRC to encourage trade between the two countries. What progress has been achieved on this aspect to date?
Yes, thank you for that question. But I think you can't have infrastructure development without peace. So, we are focusing on defeating ADF, the terrorists that attacked us in our own country, Uganda. So, we are focusing on that, but the infrastructure development projects will definitely go ahead, but we need to sort out the security question, which we are dealing with and we are dealing with it very well.
DRC is much bigger than Uganda in land size, and remote too. This hampers logistical planning and execution. How do the UPDF and FARDC plan to dominate such a big operational area and prevent the ADF from committing atrocities against the population living in those areas?
Yes, that's true, but I think [chuckles] there is a problem. A lot of people don't understand military operations, so those of us who understand military operations, you should trust us. When we say we are going to eliminate ADF in a certain territory, you should really trust that we will achieve it in spite of the difficulties
Uganda has been accused of plundering DRC natural resources, as the ICJ ruled recently. The court decided that Uganda must pay reparations to the DRC government amounting to over $ 300 million. What is your view about this development in view of the ongoing joint operations?
That's quite funny because anybody talking about Uganda plundering DRC is... I don't think is serious. First of all, Uganda has more resources than DRC. That's number one.
Number two... I think the economy of eastern DRC largely depends on Uganda, so how would Uganda plunder anything in DRC? So, I think those are not serious people. I have not studied it, but I don't think that's a serious point.