1 August 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Regional Defence Ministers Discuss Congo 'Neutral Force'

As regional efforts towards eradication of negative forces intensify, military and intelligence chiefs from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) are meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, to find remedies for the problem.

Rwanda is represented at the meeting by Maj Gen Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Army Chief of Staff.

Military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, said yesterday that the meeting had begun studying how the Joint Fusion Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can become fully operational.

"The meeting is, among other objectives, looking at having all the member states send experts and logistical support to the centre so that it provides a threat assessment of the negative forces in the region," Nzabamwita told The New Times from Khartoum.

After the officials have assessed the threats, Nzabamwita added, it will be easy to ascertain the strength of the armed groups, thereby enabling a plan of action by the ICGLR military chiefs on how the forces can be defeated.

"Credible intelligence is paramount, especially on the numbers that constitute the armed groups and the command structures in place," he explained.

Only 11 officials from ICGLR member states have so far been deployed in Goma out of 22 officials required to constitute the centre. Each state is mandated to send two officials.

Some of the armed groups in sight here include; the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the M23 rebels and Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels.

Meanwhile, the Ministers of Defence will begin a two-day meeting today to also come up with realistic and concrete solutions to the armed groups.

"In their previous meetings, ministers found out that the lack of shared information and intelligence on the identity, size, whereabouts, operations, capability and the general nature and character of existing armed negative forces in the region was a big

problem," Dorine Nininahazwe, the ICGLR Communications Officer said.

The ministers' recommendations will be presented to the next extraordinary summit of Heads of State of the 11 ICGLR Member States on the security situation in DRC scheduled to be held in Kampala next week.

The violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also featured at the meeting of Defence and Security ministers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which opened on Monday in Pretoria.

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