THE government has clarified that it is not sending troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to fight against M23 rebels but has offered to contribute one battalion to the International Neutral Force, which will be deployed to protect and monitor the DRC borders, and when necessary, help fight intruders including M23.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe made the clarification in Dar es Salaam following reports in some local media outlets that created an impression that Tanzania was unilaterally going to war with M23 in Eastern Congo.
Mr Membe said Tanzania's battalion will form part of the international neutral force which will be tasked to protect DRC's borders and help repel the invaders. Other soldiers forming the force will come from the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the SADC region.
"It is unfortunate that when I spoke to the media yesterday I was misquoted as having said Tanzania was going to DRC to fight against M23. The truth is that we are going to DRC as part of the international neutral force," the minister said.
He appealed to the media in the country to be careful when reporting issues related to the DRC crisis, saying such was a sensitive matter that needs to be properly handled. The minister also noted that President Jakaya Kikwete would be among Heads of State scheduled to attend the International Conference on Great Lakes Region and SADC counties to be held in Kampala, Uganda on Saturday.
The conference which aims at finding a lasting solution to the crisis in DRC will be chaired by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and will also be attended by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and their DRC counterpart, Joseph Kabila. The meeting is expected to urge the United Nations not to evade its responsibility in the DRC crisis.