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Uganda closes border with DR Congo

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By RISDEL KASASIRA

Posted  Wednesday, November 14  2012 at  02:00
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Kampala

Uganda has closed its border with the DR Congo at Bunagana post following reports that the M23 rebels were taxing trucks from Uganda.

Sources told the Daily Monitor yesterday that trucks heading to DR Congo were stopped by the Ugandan military to deny M23 rebels revenue collection. The Army spokesperson, Col. Felix Kulayigye, confirmed the incident, saying the border was closed on the orders of President Museveni who is on a three-day visit in Sri Lanka.

“It’s true we have temporarily closed the border on the request of Kinshasa government because the M23 rebels had started collecting money from the trucks carrying goods from Uganda to DR Congo,” he said.

This abrupt closure will see Uganda lose hundreds of millions of dollars through trade between eastern DR Congo and Uganda. Many Ugandan traders export goods like Sugar, soap, cooking oil and fresh food to DRC through Bunagana border post.

The closure followed the Monday meeting between State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem and the Congolese delegation in Kampala. Mr Oryem could not answer our repeated calls but Col. Kulayigye said he was not sure when the border would be reopened. “I can’t guess but it’s a short term measure,” he said.

With the closure of the border, the M23 rebels, who have controlled the areas of Bunagana, Rutshuru and other areas in the eastern DR Congo since April, will be denied revenue which they were using to fund their activities.

The report by the UN group of experts has accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels, allegations that sparked angry reactions from Kampala and Kigali. The M23 movement says they rebelled because the government failed to comply with a peace agreement signed in March 2009.

A new report to be released on Monday next week says World Wildlife Fund for Nature at Entebbe Resort Beach Hotel puts says that 50 percent of the timber imports from DR Congo to Uganda through Bunagana and other posts are under paid in taxes.

rkasasira@ug.nationmedia.com