23 November 2012

East Africa: 10 Presidents Expected in Kampala for DRC Talks

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

A Summit of Heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), called to discuss the conflict in eastern DRC, is expected to open today in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

At least 10 presidents from the Great Lakes region are expected to attend the emergency talks.

This is a sixth meeting becomes the sixth summit to be held this year in an effort to find a solution to the conflict that broke out in April this year following a mutiny that was staged by a group of officers formerly with the national armed forces.

Sources said the meeting is expected to address themselves to the United Nations Security Council for approval of the deployment of the proposed 4,000-strong international neutral force from Tanzania, Kenya, DR Congo and Angola.

Tanzania has already pledged 500 soldiers for the mission and is likely to command the force.

"All the eleven ICGLR Heads of State were invited and we hope will attend this important summit that seeks to find a solution to the eastern DRC conflict," Uganda's State Minister for Regional Cooperation, Asuman Kiyingi told The New Times in an interview.

The Kampala meeting comes days after Presidents Paul Kagame, Joseph Kabila of Congo and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda who is the ICGLR chair, demanded that M23 rebels withdraw from the Eastern DRC capital Goma.

But the rebels are adamant until Kabila's government agrees to hold talks with them.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, African Union Commission chairperson, is also expected to attend the meeting.

The summit was preceded by a number of meetings in the last few days, where reports by military experts have been submitted to ICGLR Ministers of Defence on the strength of armed groups in the DRC.

The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of Congolese displaced, mostly fleeing to Rwanda and Uganda.

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