The Ugandan military on Friday announced that the former military leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) rebel group M23 has escaped from the country under unclear circumstances.

Brig. Richard Karemire, Uganda’s military spokesperson, told Xinhua in a telephone interview that Sultani Makenga who has been under watch disappeared last month to an unknown location.

“Makenga disappeared. We don’t know his whereabouts. We can’t be in a position to trace and hunt for him. He has not been under arrest or prison,” said Karemire.

The confirmation of Makenga’s disappearance comes about three weeks after the authorities in DR Congo accused neighbouring Uganda of letting free hundreds of former combatants.

Lambert Mende Omalanga, the Congolese government spokesperson, told reporters in Kinshasa that hundreds of ex-M23 fighters, including Makenga, who had been exiled in Uganda, sneaked to their former bases in eastern DRC.

The military on Jan. 18 arrested 101 ex-M23 fighters while trying to sneak back to DR Congo.

Maj. Henry Obbo, Uganda’s deputy military spokesperson, last week told Xinhua in an interview that Uganda and DR Congo foreign affairs ministries were discussing the return of over 300 former fighters combatants cantoned at Bihanga military training school in the western district of Ibanda.

Uganda, DR Congo and M23 reached an Agreement in 2014 regarding the return of 1,377 former rebels for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration back home.

Just 200 of the 1,377 ex-combatants have been returned home for official Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme.

The former fighters fled to western Uganda in December 2013 after they were defeated by the United Nations Intervention Force Brigade in the eastern Kivu province.



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