What you need to know:
- While interfacing with the top officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs yesterday, the legislators demanded that Parliament is formally briefed on the UPDF deployment before an approval is made.
The Parliamentary Committee on Budget has called for halting of the approval of Shs89.7b that Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) is seeking to finance its operations in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
While interfacing with the top officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs yesterday, the legislators demanded that Parliament is formally briefed on the UPDF deployment before an approval is made.
The proposal was fronted by Kira Municipality MP, Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, as the Defence officials presented their 2022/2023 budget framework before the Budget Committee.
“Why do they now want permission from Parliament for money when they said they don’t need Parliament? Now, on what basis do you make recommendations to the Budget committee to make allocations of Operation Shujja when you yourself haven’t been briefed? Briefing of Parliament is pending, now you say we give them Shs89b,” Mr Ssemuuju said.
He added: “My proposal is for this money to wait until they have properly briefed Parliament, but for them to feel sweet as if they are on personal enterprise, No.”
Majority lawmakers backed the proposal and was approved by committee chairperson, Mr Patrick Isiagi.
“So we are saying, before you talk about funding, give us all that detail so that it informs the allocation. But now, before we are informed of the strategic importance, the challenges encountered in DRC, what more input is required, then we can’t have a basis for allocating funds for Shujja,” Mr Isiagi said.
This, therefore, implies that the request for the funds needed for the operation has for the third time been discarded.
The matter first came up on Friday last week after the committee on Defence threw out the Ministry of Defence officials demanding they return with a detailed 2022/2023 budget framework paper. On Monday, the same committee sent Defence officials back demanding they first explain the UPDF deployment in the DRC. The lawmakers also tasked the State Minister for Defence, Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth, to return with his Minister Vincent Ssempijja.
In late November, the UPDF launched air, artillery and ground attacks against the llied Democratic Forces in Eastern DR Congo in retaliation of terror attacks on Uganda.
Operation Shujja is under the command of Maj Gen Kayanja Muhanga.
The UPDF contingent is said to comprise artillery, armored, infantry and special forces that were deployed to counter the ADF operations that were believed to have been infested in the Tondoli, Beni and Yayuwa camps.
The attacks were reportedly scheduled to run for about six months but it is unclear whether the time frame will be stretched since the Forces are faced with a number of challenges including navigation occasioned by heavy rains and impassable roads.