Uganda Army: Eastern Congo Instability Threatens Oil Region

Posted February 7, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Business ~ 3,755 views


By Nicholas Bariyo | KAMPALA, Uganda -(Dow Jones)- Instability in the Eastern Congo poses a threat to Uganda’s plans to start exploiting oil reserves on its side of the Lake Albertine rift basin, which straddles the common border of the two countries, the Ugandan army and defense spokesman said Monday.

Uganda has joined various initiatives to find a lasting solution to lawlessness and illegal mineral dealings in the mineral-rich Eastern Congo ahead of the planned commencement of oil production on its side of the rift basin, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kuliagye told Dow Jones Newswires, dismissing recent allegations that Uganda is supporting a rebel faction across the border.

“…a stable and peaceful Congo, is more valuable to Uganda than the current status quo, which undermines the exploitation of our natural resources in western Uganda” he said in an emailed statement.

Last week, the Enough project, a U.S.-based advocacy group, said in a report that, “Uganda’s primary focus is north of Walikale in the Ituri region, where it is vying to maximize benefits from the oil reserves discovered underneath Lake Edward, as well as serving as a major hub for the gold trade.”

The group cited unnamed sources in the region as saying that the Ugandan government is supporting a rebel faction led by ex-Rwandan army officers in the restive Eastern Congo, a charge strongly denied by the Ugandan army.

“We challenge Enough project to produce evidence to their claims,” Kuliagye said. “Uganda has stood with the people of Rwanda when others were loudly silent at their worst time in history.”

Uganda’s elite Special Forces unit, commanded by President Yoweri Museveni’s first son, Lieutenant Colonel Muhoozi Keinerugaba, was deployed in 2008 to guard the oil region against possible incursion of insurgents from Eastern Congo.

Whereas oil exploration activities on the Ugandan side have led to the discovery of at least a billion barrels of oil since 2006, similar activities on the Congolese side have been hampered by insecurity.

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