23 November 2012

East Africa: Rwanda FM Rallies International Support for ICGLR Efforts On DR Congo

Photo: Eddie Ssejjoba/New Vision
DRC President Joseph Kabila, left, with South Sudan minister of commerce and investments, Garanga Dung Akwang in Kampala.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, has slammed the United Nations Group of Experts report implicating Rwanda in the DRC crisis, saying it is compromised and urged the international community to support ongoing regional efforts to resolve the confict.

I hope our regional and international partners will welcome and support the agreement reached in Kampala this week

The report accuses Rwanda of backing M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a charge Rwanda denies.

Earlier this week, the rebel force seized parts of eastern DRC, including Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

"Rwanda has made every effort to respond comprehensively to all allegations in this compromised report. We are not interested in rehashing all that is wrong with the report but the fact that it is labelled "expert" or "UN" doesn't mean it is truthful. Rwanda is neither the cause nor a complicating factor of the problems in the DRC but part of the solution," Mushikiwabo said in a statement.

She added that the breakthrough reached on Wednesday by Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila of DRC was the best chance for peace since the current crisis began.

"We, in the region have spent many months working for a solution to this crisis, I hope our regional and international partners will welcome and support the agreement reached in Kampala this week by the Heads of State of DRC, Uganda, Rwanda. It represents the most effective way to end the conflict and bring about peace and progress in the DRC."

She pointed out that Rwanda was keen to see the new impetus succeed because the absence of solutions to the conflict in the DRC affects Rwanda negatively.

"We are dealing with complex issues here, success doesn't depend only on Rwanda and the responsibility of the international community cannot be pushed aside. We therefore hope that all parties will support this regional effort," noted Mushikiwabo.

Kabila agreed to hold direct talks with the M23 rebels, and in return, the leaders demanded the rebels pull out of Goma.

In a related development The New Times is reliably informed that the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, launched in September in Goma, DRC has compiled a report from their initial investigations which indicates that there is no evidence proving that Rwanda is providing logistical support to the M23 rebel group.

Although the report is yet to be made public, the Defence and Military spokesperson, Brig Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita confirmed this to The New Times, saying it's a vindication of the government of Rwanda.

The Joint Verification Mechanism-previously a bilateral arrangement between Rwanda and DRC-was designed to verify allegations against either side, was expanded to include all ICGLR member states.

The mechanism consists of a team of 24 senior military officers drawn from the 11 member states constituting the ICGLR.

DRC and Rwanda are both represented by three officers each, while the other nine countries each have two delegates each. The team is led by Uganda's Brig General Geoffrey Muhesi.

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