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A Genocide Could Erupt After UPDF Quits DRC

Uganda’s presence in Ituri has drawn considerable criticism. Some of that criticism has been directed at its alleged past role in playing off the Hema and Lendu communities in Ituri against each other to justify its presence in the mineral-rich district. Some Ugandan military officers who have served in Ituri have also been blamed for exploiting the natural resources of the district. The result has been international pressure for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to begin leaving the DRC, a departure now set for tomorrow. Yet observers of the political scene in Ituri worry that if a Ugandan pullout leaves a security vacuum a disaster could follow swiftly. “If there is the slightest security vacuum, there will be genocide here,” one analyst in Bunia told IRIN. Expectations are that Thomas Lubanga’s Congolese rebel group, the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), ousted from Bunia by the UPDF on March 6, would try to make a comeback and fighting between Lendu and Hema would erupt anew. Uganda has repeatedly called for a neutral international force in Ituri to fill any vacuum when its forces leave. Also, it has suggested that the Congolese government organise a security structure for the district. The commander of Ugandan forces in Ituri, Brig Kale Kaihura, drove this message home at the opening of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) meeting on April 4. Full Story

OODA Analyst

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