Uganda, DRC in new border row

June 10, 2009 12:00 am

, KAMPALA, Jun 10 – The Democratic Republic of Congo should halt putting up a border post on a disputed territory off oil-rich Lake Albert until results of a recent study are out, Ugandan officials said on Wednesday.

"I believe this is just aggression. It is provocation. That is the simplest way I can put it," Betty Adima, commissioner for Nebbi district told AFP.

Nebbi borders Lake Albert, which recent findings show holds more than a billion barrels of oil.

The site of the new Congolese outpost is in Goli, which like much of the borderland in West Nile region, has historically been disputed.

"They have armed men guarding the building which means they know they are doing something wrong," she said.

The two neighbours had recently agreed to put on hold all construction on contested land until they completed a joint survey of the border.

Officials from Uganda’s energy ministry conducted their study of the area last year, but are yet to release their findings.

Ugandan army spokesman in the region, Captain Peter Mugisha, told AFP the Congolese had taken advantage of the delays of the survey outcome.

"We told them this was not in line with what our two countries had agreed," he said. "And yet they continue with the construction."

Mugisha said the Congolese claimed the outpost was necessary to control cross-border smuggling.

"That explanation is really not all that convincing," he added.

In a recent meeting with their Ugandan counterparts, Congolese officials in the area said they did not have powers to stop the building work, according to Mugisha.

"They explained to us that their instructions were coming from their superiors in Kinshasa," Mugisha said.

He added that the Ugandan military was monitoring the situation, but had not yet used force to stop the construction work.

"I think they will come to their senses," he said.


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