Former Congo leader denies accusations he harbored Islamist rebels

Joseph Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has denied allegations made by Uganda that he provided refuge to an Islamist rebel group and facilitated its growth and exploitation of mineral resources.

Kabila, who served as the leader of Congo from 2001 to 2019, was succeeded by the current president Felix Tshisekedi.

Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan leader, accused Kabila of permitting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group that has pledged loyalty to Islamic State (IS), to establish significant encampments.

Museveni also alleged that the ADF engaged in activities such as gold mining, timber trading, and other economic endeavors.

“The gratuitous false accusations of President Museveni who is one of the main destabilizers in the region are simply ridiculous and aim to distract the Congolese people and divide them,” Kabila’s spokesperson said in a statement to media.

Established in 1996, the ADF initially operated as a rebel group originating from Uganda, conducting attacks primarily in the Rwenzori region located in western Uganda.

Members of the group are known to engage in frequent acts of violence in Congo, targeting both civilians and military personnel. Additionally, they occasionally launch attacks within Uganda’s borders as well.

In a particularly horrific incident, last month, rebels affiliated with the ADF crossed the border into Uganda. They launched a brutal assault on a secondary school, resulting in the massacre of 42 individuals, predominantly students. Some of the victims were burned alive.

The statement said Kabila’s government had recognised the ADF as a terrorist organisation and kept the international community including the United Nations well informed “on the abuses perpetrated by the ADF and the need to intervene”.

“These international organizations rejected this qualification of the Congolese government of the word ‘terrorist’. It is past time that the facts have proven that Joseph Kabila was right and that it was necessary to intervene urgently.”

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