24 November 2012

Central Africa: Great Lakes Leaders Arrive for Congo Crisis Meet

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

Entebbe — Leaders of the Great Lakes region jetted into Uganda for the 5th Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) as the heads-of-state seek solutions to end the crisis in Congo.

Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila touched down at Entebbe Airport on Saturday moments before Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete's arrival.

Kenya's president Mwai Kibaki is also in Kampala for the meet. According to earlier reports, Rwandan president Paul Kagame would not attend the summit held at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

The current security situation in DR Congo is expected to be top-of-agenda in a meet that comes only three months after a similar one was convened early August to discuss the crisis in President Kabila's country.

The political leader of M23 - the rebel group that captured Goma, a key city near Sake - flew into Uganda on Thursday for talks with Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni.

The leaders are expected to reach an agreement with the rebels that should realize calm in a country where residents, especially in the rebel-captured town of Goma, are living in fear and are battling with shortage of basic necessities.

Over 100,000 people are fleeing the violence in eastern Congo, a half of whom are children, according to the UN children's agency.

Presidents Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Kabila (DR Congo) held a series of closed-door talks mid this week to discuss the crisis and called on the fighters to give up the territory they now control.

But the adamant group vowed not to give in to the demands, threatening to press forward toward seizing the strategic eastern town of Bukavu, which would mark the biggest gain in rebel territory in nearly a decade if it were to fall.

The country's president said he was willing to talk to the rebel representatives in a move that would inspire an end to the fighting in the country.

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