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Kampala dismisses Congo's call for sanctions

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KAMPALA, 5 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Uganda's foreign minister, Sam Kutesa, dismissed on Wednesday a demand for UN sanctions against his country made a day earlier by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"We think the request for an arms embargo is ridiculous," he said in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "It does not solve the problem."

The DRC's envoy to the UN, Ileka Atoki, had called for the sanctions after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said his troops would invade northeastern Congo by the end of October if the Congolese government or the UN failed to disarm 400 newly arrived Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The LRA rebels and their families, led by deputy commander Vincent Otti, fled to Congo in September following Ugandan military operations, which flushed them out of southern Sudan.

Atoki had said Museveni's comments represented "a threat to international peace and security under provisions of the UN charter".

Kutesa responded by saying, "It is the duty of the DRC under the Lusaka Peace agreement that no negative elements should use its territory to destabilise its neighbours."

"We just call upon the DRC to deal decisively with the negative elements on its territory [and] the LRA is a terrorist group known everywhere," Kutesa said.

Kutesa also called on the Kinshasa government to disarm the remnants of two other Ugandan groups based near Uganda on the Congolese side of the border, the People's Redemption Army and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Uganda invaded the DRC in 1998 to try to defeat the ADF.

Kutesa said Uganda would not allow rebels seeking to destabilise the DRC to have bases in Uganda.

However, Atoki refuted that claim saying that Kampala was "sponsoring various militia groups, mainly in Ituri [a district in DRC's Oriental Province] where they were involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources".

The Congolese army this week started sending 2,000 troops with support from the UN Mission in the DRC to disarm the LRA, according to UN and Congolese army sources.


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