KAMPALA - Uganda's army said on Monday it will send 1,000 troops to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo by the end of this month to join a regional force mandated to help end decades of instability.
The seven countries of the East African Community (EAC), which Congo joined this year, agreed in April to set up a force to fight militia groups in Congo's east.
Uganda will be the third country to deploy troops after contingents from Kenya and Burundi arrived in the area, Uganda's army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said, but their involvement has been opposed by some activist groups and officials because of Uganda's role in Congo's bloody civil wars.
In September, Uganda paid Congo $65 million, the first instalment of a total $325 million, in compensation for losses caused by Ugandan troops occupying Congolese territory in the 1990s.
Eastern Congo already hosts hundreds of Ugandan troops, deployed nearly a year ago under a separate bilateral arrangement to help hunt down Islamic State-allied group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Despite billions of dollars spent on one of the United Nation's largest peacekeeping forces, more than 120 armed groups continue to operate across large swathes of eastern Congo, including M23 rebels, which Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of supporting. Kigali denies the claims.
The M23 have staged a major offensive this year, seizing territory, forcing thousands of people from their homes and sparking a diplomatic row between Congo and Rwanda.
On Friday, the EAC said Kenya's former president Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame had agreed on the need for M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured territory.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Hereward Holland and Nick Macfie)