The Democratic Republic of Congo representatives at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have boycotted a retreat of the members of the regional body that is being held in Kampala, Uganda.
Mr Stephen Odongo, a Ugandan representative in the EALA, said their DRC counterparts were concerned about their security while in Kampala. They are said to have avoided entering Rwanda for the committee sessions of EALA on the same grounds.
Members of the regional body were Monday evening hosted to a dinner by the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Anita Among at her residence in Kampala where she committed to have the Speakers of the respective parliaments in the region develop standards to be observed by EALA members.
“Let us have a meeting as Speakers and agree on what should be done by our members who are in the community,” Ms Among said.
Speaking about the boycott, Ms Among cautioned members against involvement in matters that do not concern them.
“Don’t enter into wars that do not concern you,” she said.
Ms Among’s remark was prompted by Mr Odongo when he raised concern about the boycott and called upon her to give assurance to the legislators about the state of security in Uganda.
“As the number three in the country, we would wish that you make a very strong statement of the state of our security to inspire confidence in our colleagues who are not here with us that this country is safe and we are here for regional integration,” Odongo had appealed.
EALA Speaker Joseph Ntakirutimana said he was shocked when he received the communication from the DRC representatives that they would not attend the committee sessions both in Kigali and Kampala.
DRC last year severed relations with Rwanda as the former accused Kigali of providing material support to the M23 rebels who have captured swathes of territory around North Kivu province.
Both the United Nations and the United States accuse Rwanda of supporting the rebels but Rwanda has vehemently denied the allegations.
However, the relations between Kampala and Kinshasa appear to have been warm, signified by the signed Status of Forces Agreement which has allowed the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) to hunt down the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in the jungles of eastern DRC.
The same cannot be said for Rwanda whose deployment of the country’s army as part of the East African Joint Regional Forces has been objected to by DRC.