DRC deployment in border prompts Ugandan protest
(9 June 2009)On 8 June 2009, the Ugandan government officially protested the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) deployment of troops along their overland boundary northwest of Lake Albert. Congolese sources confirmed that the deployment of DRC troops in the area was intended to support the construction of a police post some 50 metres outside the town of Goli in a contested area between Uganda’s Nebbi district and DRC’s Mahagi district. This section of the DRC-Uganda boundary was originally demarcated in 1913 by an Anglo-Belgian boundary commission, but it is unlikely that the boundary is visible on the ground today.
Although incidents and military confrontations along this border section are not new, Betti Adima, the Nebbi resident district commissioner, said that this construction spread panic and anxiety among the residents because of the presence of troops. Adima blamed the Congolese authorities of violating the Ngurdoto-Tanzania Agreement (2006) which envisions a joint re-demarcation of the contested boundary sections and she urged an immediate halt in the construction of the police post. However, her Congolese counterpart of the Mahagi district already rejected the Ugandan request claiming that the construction was taking place in Congolese territory. While Uganda considers the move to be a clear provocation, Major Felix Kulaigye of the Ugandan army affirmed that he will not proceed with a counter deployment. A similar confrontation occurred in the area in May 2008 and some reports indicated that a local agreement had been reached to keep military forces outside of the immediate border zone.
This is not the only contested territory along the DRC-Uganda border. The two countries have another major unresolved dispute over the ownership of Rukwanzi Island in Lake Albert which led to military clashes last summer. Following these skirmishes the two countries agreed to administer the island jointly, but such joint administration has not yet been put in place as Uganda blames DRC for not having yet appointed its representative to Rukwanzi.
Uganda is also involved in another border dispute with Kenya for the sovereignty over Migingo Island in Lake Victoria. At the moment a joint survey is taking place that should lead to demarcation of the boundary.
Sources: ‘Congo deploys troops in demilitarized zone’ Dow Jones International News, 8 June 2009; ‘Congo, Uganda clash over border ‘ The New Vision, 7 June 2009; ‘Uganda says Congo has deployed troops in demilitarized zone’ Dow Jones International News, 8 June 2009; ‘Uganda, Congo clash over police post in oil region-paper’ Dow Jones International News, 8 June 2009.