Political and civil society organisation leaders from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to ensure a cordial relationship during oil exploration in the region.
The two countries have oil deposits and other minerals around their border points. The leaders said a pleasant relationship, based on respect to past agreements signed in Ngurdoto by President Museveni and his counterpart Joseph Kabila, was vital for locals to benefit from the resources.
At a meeting organised by International Alert, an international NGO, Arua deputy Resident District Commissioner Mr Abdul Ajiga, said there was need to respect territorial integrity. “We are brothers by blood, so we should ensure that this oil benefits all of us and we need to avoid suspicion and unnecessary accusations,” Mr Ajiga said.
Military presence at the borders will oil prospects were seen by the leaders as a threat to regional security.
Assistant commissioner for geophysics in the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department Honey Malinga said there was need to respect the past agreements. “The two countries agreed to respect the four kilometres from each others borders. This is good for development of the oil which would benefit us greatly,” he said.
A researcher with a technical school in Bunia, DR Congo, Mr Frank Bura, said the two countries should implement good oil policies that could steer development rather than divisionism.
“We should not let colonial boundaries separate us, but we if there is going to be border remarking in contested areas like Rukwanzi, then it should be done diplomatically and not militarily,” Mr Bura said.
The executive director for Rural Initiative for Community Empowerment, an NGO, Mr Pax Sakari, said: “If the two countries explore and exploit the natural resource meaningfully, we will have poverty wiped out, education and health sectors improved among the locals.”