Joseph Kabila was president of the Democratic Republic of Congo for 18 years, / Photo: Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo's former president Joseph Kabila has rejected accusations from neighbouring Uganda that he gave sanctuary to an Islamist rebel group and allowed it to expand and exploit mineral resources.

Kabila led Congo from 2001 to 2019 when he was succeeded by current President Felix Tshisekedi.

Last week, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni said Kabila had allowed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which has pledged allegiance to the DAESH terror group - also known as IS, to set up large camps and also mine gold and sell timber, among other economic activities.

In a statement to Reuters news agency, Kabila said the accusations "are simply ridiculous and aim to distract the Congolese people and divide them."

Rebels driven out

Founded in 1996, the ADF was originally a Ugandan rebel group, carrying out attacks around the Rwenzori region in western Uganda.

The insurgents were eventually routed and driven out and remnants fled across the border into the jungles of eastern Congo where they have since been lodged.

Fighters from the group frequently carry out killings in Congo both against civilian and military targets and also occasionally carry out attacks in Uganda.

In one of the most grisly attacks, last month, ADF rebels crossed the border into Uganda, stormed a secondary school and killed 42 people, mostly students. Some were burned alive.

Terror organisation

In his statement, Kabila said his government had recognised the ADF as a terrorist organisation and kept the international community including the United Nations well informed "on the abuses perpetrated by the ADF and the need to intervene".

"These international organisations rejected this qualification of the Congolese government of the word 'terrorist'. It is past time that the facts have proven that Joseph Kabila was right and that it was necessary to intervene urgently."