, UNITED NATIONS, Nov 6 – Uganda maintained a threat to withdraw troops from international peacekeeping operations after UN talks on Monday over accusations that it has backed rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Uganda’s Communications and Information Minister Ruhakana Rugunda told AFP his country felt “stabbed in the back” by a UN report which said Uganda and Rwanda have helped M23 rebels who are battling DR Congo government forces.
Uganda, a major contributor to peacekeeping forces in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Sudan’s troubled Darfur region and East Timor, has threatened to withdraw its soldiers unless the allegations are withdrawn.
Rugunda met with UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson and ambassadors from the 15-member UN Security Council to express outrage at the report.
“I said Uganda will withdraw from its peaceful engagements in the region unless there is definitive assurance from our neighbours in the region and also from the United Nations system,” Rugunda said in the interview.
“We are waiting now to see how the Security Council will deal with the subject,” he added.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the world body has had “no official communication” from Uganda about the report and UN diplomats said no official threat to withdraw has yet been made.
The report on DR Congo by UN sanctions committee experts has infuriated Uganda and Rwanda, which both border the eastern region where M23 has been battling the government since March.
The experts said Uganda had “actively supported” M23, a movement led by wanted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, who the report said had bought a house in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
The report quoted DR Congo army commanders and former M23 officers who said Uganda had deployed about 600 troops alongside Rwandan forces to help the rebels prepare attacks.
Rugunda said people who reported the troops to the United Nations had probably mistaken them for about 600 DR Congo troops who fled across the border to Uganda and were eventually sent back in July.