A summit of regional leader in Kampala, Uganda, has come up with new plan to end the conflict in eastern DR Congo - including the establishment of a multi-million dollar "Trust Fund" to help the tens of thousands of refugees from the conflict.
An 8-point plan from the two-day summit attended by President Paul Kagame and DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila, sets out "vigorous efforts with a view to ensure that there is a complete halt to fighting" in Eastern DRC. In addition, the summit also agreed on the "possibility of sanctions against those who obstruct the peace process".
Convened by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, the talks were also attended by presidents Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) and Kenyan vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka. The summit was organized under the auspices of the 11-member International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
The leaders set up a "sub-committee" of defense ministers including Rwanda's own Gen James Kabarebe which will work on a detailed framework within a month outlining how the conflict will be ended. The committee will be headed by Uganda's defense minister, Dr Crispus Kiyonga. Others are ministers from DRC, Angola, Burundi, the Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
This committee has been given two weeks to propose the plan, which should be submitted to the ICGLR Heads of State and Government in four weeks.
In what seems like open hostility to foreign participation, the leaders affirmed what was described as "home-grown solutions to the problems of the Great Lakes Region through our established Regional Mechanisms".
The same committee of defense ministers has also been tasked to come up with the details of the so called "neutral International Force". The ministers will determine who will be included on the force and what exactly it will do.
Perhaps the unexpected development from the summit is the establishment of a "Trust Fund" to "support victims of the humanitarian crisis". Uganda immediately committed US$1 million to the Fund. From the wording of the final communiqué, the fund will likely go to helping Congolese displaced internally and those in Rwanda and Uganda as a result of the latest fighting.
Even when the leaders affirmed "home-grown solution", they also appealed for international assistance to cope with the tens of thousands of refugees. Aid agencies say more than 250,000 have been displaced in the past few months. Rwanda alone is home to more than 20,000 refugees - an addition to 55,000 who have been living here for years.
In the 5-page communiqué, the leaders said all efforts be put in place to "ensure that access of humanitarian aid to the victims is not obstructed" - a possible reference to a stop to attacks on relief workers.