6 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. Backs Regional Approach to DRC

The US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, has said that the ongoing efforts by the ICGLR to end violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, are an indication of the region's collective desire for peace.

The ICGLR (International Conference on the Great Lakes Region) is a grouping of 11 member states and under the current steward ship of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni have been involved in various efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.

Sherman is expected to travel to DRC today where she will hold talks with President Joseph Kabila about the situation in eastern DRC where several rebel groups have operated for decades.

The DRC government has of recent come under serious criticism for failure to address the underlying causes of conflicts that have left thousands of Congolese raped, displaced or even killed.

"The countries in the Great Lakes including Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Kenya and others have shown a common interest in ending the crisis in the eastern parts of DRC," Sherman said.

She added: "Although the situation involves complex issues like ethnic identity, transit and DRC's ability, it has been illustrated that no one is willing to support the negative forces operating in Congo and the country's sovereignty will be supported at all times."

Sherman, who was addressing reporters from across the continent through a telephone conference, while in Nairobi, noted that her talks with President Kabila will also focus on prosperity for the region.

"I will be holding talks with President Joseph Kabila tomorrow (today) on the situation, as we continue to seek for a way back to peace, security and prosperity for the region," she said.

Sherman further commented on Uganda's decision to withdraw its troops from UN backed missions in Somalia, the Central African Republic and the DRC in retaliation to a controversial leaked UN report that alleged Uganda and Rwanda were fuelling the crisis in Congo and supporting armed groups.

Uganda provides the largest contingent to the UN-backed African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom).

The Amisom force has helped the Somali government gain ground against Islamist militias.

"The United States will not comment on the UN report that was leaked by the media but what I am confident about is that Uganda has played a critical role in finding peace and security in the region. I have had positive talks with President Museveni and we largely agreed on continuing efforts to defeat negative forces and create peace," Sherman said.

"Last week I also held talks with President Paul Kagame and discussed a variety of issues including Rwanda's role on the UN Security Council and regional security. Generally, there is political will in the region to reach a positive end to the instability."

Sherman's trip to the Great Lakes began October 29, and is expected to conclude on November 8.

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