Lieutenant Colonel Frank Tumwesigye has assumed office as the deputy commander of the Ugandan troops deployed under the peace keeping mission in North Kivu province, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tumwesigye has replaced Lieutenant Colonel Henry Kakuru Tukwasibwe who was recalled back to Uganda for other official assignments.
Tumwesigye assumed office on Saturday evening during an indoor ceremony that was held at the troops base in Niongera, Kiwanja, Rutshuru territory. Colonel Michael Walaka Hyeroba, the overall Ugandan troops Contingent Commander, welcomed Tumwesigye and called for teamwork amongst his troops in order for the objectives of the mission to be achieved.
According to Hyerob, the Ugandan contingent must work as a family in accordance to the mandated requirements. Tumwesigye thanked the UPDF leadership for the new deployment under East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) and promised to work closely with the entire EACRF Forces in the fulfillment of the EACRF Mandate.
Tumwesigye’s appointment comes at a time when fierce fighting between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and government army and militia coalition under their umbrella “Wazalendo) is raging in Rutshuru, Masisi and Nyiragongo territories.
On Saturday fighting raged in Kibumba and 3 Antennas in Buhumba in Nyiragongo territory less than 20 kilometers to Goma city. M23 rebels through their political spokesperson accused the government army of attacking M23 positions.
Tumwesigye’s appointment also comes at a time when the mandate of troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan deployed in the area under East African Community Regional Force in accordance to Nairobi and Luanda Summit resolutions by East African Community Heads of States is expiring on 8th, December, 2023.
The DR Congo government is vowing not to renew the mandate accusing EAC-Regional Force troops of not fighting M23 rebels. EAC troops have also faced heavy criticism and protests from a section of locals, activists and politicians over not launching assaults against M23 rebels. Troops were deployed in late 2022 to reclaim positions that were previously held by the M23 rebels after they defeated the FARDC soldiers and to establish a buffer zone to prevent further clashes between M23 rebels and FARDC soldiers.
In March 2022, M23 rebels led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga launched a war against the government. The DR Congo government accuses Rwanda of backing M23, but Rwanda and M23 strongly deny it. The rebels claim to fight against bad leadership in DR Congo based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.