9 September 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: Way Forward for DRC

Photo: Henry Mukasa/New Vision
Attending the meeting, the third in two months, were DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

The International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) Heads of State summit ended in Kampala yesterday, with leaders calling on all member states to contribute officers to the joint verification mechanism (JVM) based in Eastern DRC.

Later this week, Regional Ministers of Defence will launch the Mechanism, which now has been expanded to include all ICGLR member states.

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are each required to send three officers, while the each of the nine member states will send two.

"Rwanda is very pleased that in actually one week we will have officers on the ground, near our border, to observe that Rwanda has nothing to hide and cannot be part of any action against its neighbor," Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told The Sunday Times yesterday.

A UN Group of Experts released a controversial report alleging that Rwanda is supporting rebels in the DRC. The credibility and impartiality of the report has come to question after it emerged that the evidence presented was controversial and that the some of the authors had prior bias against the Government of Rwanda.

Rwanda has released a detailed rebuttal to the report

"We can't wait for the launch of the joint verification mechanism," Mushikiwabo said.

To make its work easy, Heads of State in a communiqué issued yesterday said the mechanism will receive direct intelligence information from the Joint Intelligence Centre also based in Goma.

The Heads of State requested that the current ICGLR Chairperson, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni sends a strong message at an upcoming UN summit on the DRC summit to seek diplomatic and technical support for agreed on initiatives under the ICGLR framework.

"The outcome of this summit is good because it recommends a dual track which is political talks first and if those fail, then go for the military solution," Foreign Minister, Mushikiwabo said.

The summit commended Tanzania for its offer to contribute troops to the neutral international force and urged member states to make a similar commitment within one month.

"While we leave Kampala to start preparing the operational side of this international force, we are confident the efforts of Uganda in this particular case will prevail," Mushikiwabo added.

The Heads of State also tasked Angola, Tanzania, the Republic of Congo and Kenya to make a joint presentation to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) for formal consideration and approval of the neutral international force in eastern DRC

They agreed that the next extraordinary summit to review progress on the implementation of the decisions takes place in Kampala in October.

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