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Uganda says to pull out of Somalia if no changes to Congo report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sat, 3 Nov 2012 15:11 GMT
Author: Reuters
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KAMPALA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Uganda will withdraw from peacekeeping initiatives in Africa unless the United Nations amends a report accusing it of supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, its foreign affairs ministry said.

Stung by accusations of support for Congo's M23 rebel group, Uganda's security minister said on Friday Kampala would tell the United Nations it was withdrawing its forces from military operations in Somalia and other regional hotspots.

Uganda and its neighbour Rwanda have denied accusations contained in a leaked report by a U.N. Group of Experts that the two countries have helped the M23 rebels, whose warlord leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

"Uganda's withdrawal from regional peace efforts, including Somalia, CAR (Central African Republic) etc would become inevitable unless the U.N. corrects the false accusations made against Uganda, by bringing out the truth about Uganda's role in the current regional efforts," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

U.N. diplomats in New York said it was unclear whether Uganda meant the threats seriously or was merely trying to pressure Security Council members from taking action on the Group of Experts' recommendations.

The experts called for U.N. sanctions against individuals supporting the M23 rebels.

Ugandan troops account for more than a third of the 17,600 U.N.-mandated African peacekeepers battling Islamist al Shabaab rebels in Somalia and their withdrawal could hand an advantage to the militants, who are linked to al Qaeda.

A sudden reduction in peacekeeping numbers, especially in the capital Mogadishu, would risk undoing the security gains that allowed the first presidential elections in decades to be held in the capital in September.

Uganda's soldiers, backed by U.S. special forces, are also leading the hunt for fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in Central African Republic, with some stationed in South Sudan. (Reporting by Justin Dralaze and Elias Biryabarema; Writing by George Obulutsa, Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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