21 November 2012

Central Africa: Regional Ministers Call for International Force

The United Nations Security Council yesterday voted to sanction leaders of M23 rebels, a day after it occupied the eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic Congo. The adopted Resolution 2076, also demanded that the rebels immediately withdraw from Goma, disarm and disband.

It also adopted to impose a travel ban and assets freeze on the M23 rebel group leadership. Individual nations are supposed to enforce the sanctions and report to the council.

The sanctions follow a condemnation of the rebels by foreign affairs ministers of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) member states for violating the cessation of hostilities and disregarding a ceasefire brokered by ICGLR.

The ministers, who converged in Kampala on Tuesday to discuss the security situation and find a lasting solution in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, also called upon all parties involved in the hostilities to immediately stop and allow ICGLR mechanism to intervene in finding a durable solution through political and diplomatic process.

"We call upon the international community to mobilize resources and provide diplomatic and humanitarian support to the ICGLR regional initiative on the crisis in Eastern DRC," a statement signed by five foreign affairs ministers including Louise Musikiwabo and DR Congo's Raymond Tshibanda. Others were Henry Okello Oryem of Uganda, Prof. Sam Ongeri of Kenya and Laurent Kavakure of Burundi. Representatives of Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania signed on behalf of their ministers.

The ministers also urged member states and other countries to contribute troops as soon as possible to the Neutral International Force (NIF).

"We also call upon the African Union Peace and Security Council to mandate NIF and seek the support of the United Nations Security Council to deploy NIF including through the provision of financial, technical and logistical support."

Yesterday morning, many Congolese returned to Goma and cheered on as government soldiers and police defected to the M23. The rebels threatened to take over Bukavu, the main city in South Kivu.

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