The New Times (Kigali)

Congo-Kinshasa: M23 Rebels Given 48 Hours to Leave Goma

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

Regional Heads of State yesterday ordered the M23 rebels to withdraw from Goma in 48 hours.

Goma, the capital of the eastern DRC fell to the rebels last Tuesday.

The Heads of State, grouped under the ICGRL issued the order in a statement released after meeting in Kampala yesterday.

"We have decided that M23 withdraw from current positions to the ground of tactical importance not less than 20km from Goma town within 2 days," the Heads of State said in a communiqué.

Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo represented President Paul Kagame at the meeting.

The meeting, chaired by the ICGLR Chairperson, Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was also attended by DRC President Joseph Kabila, Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete and Kenya's Mwai Kibaki among other leaders.

They asked the DRC Government to listen, evaluate and resolve the legitimate grievances of M23 including taking into account the report of the work already done by the ICGLR.

"They will withdraw to a strategic position of 20 kilometers away from Goma. In other words, nobody should attempt to attack them wherever they are," Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa told The New Times in an interview.

Kuteesa said that although M23 rebels may be an illegitimate group, it has legitimate concerns which the DRC government has undertaken to evaluate and resolve.

"They are the ones to choose what strategic place to withdraw to. They are not withdrawing for nothing," he added.

Mushikwabo called on the international community to support the peace deal, adding that this marked a major breakthrough in finding a lasting solution to the conflict in eastern Congo.

"We expect the M23 as well as the DRC Government to abide by the deal that has been brokered by the ICGLR," she said.

At Goma airport, the Presidents decided, a composite force comprising of one company of a Neutral Force, another company of the FARDC and the DRC army and one company of M23 should be deployed.

The Heads of State demanded that the Police that were disarmed in Goma by M23 be rearmed so that they resume duty.

The Presidents ordered that the process shall be supervised by Chiefs of Defence of Rwanda, DRC and led by the Chief of Defence Forces of Uganda, with the participation of other Chiefs of Defence Staff from other member states.

They asked the UN peace keeping force in DRC, MONUSCO, to occupy and provide security in the neutral zone between Goma and the new areas occupied by M23.

Below is a full statement by the Heads of State

DECLARATION OF THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE MEMBER STATES OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE GREAT LAKES REGION (ICGLR) ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)

5th EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT OF THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT

KAMPALA, UGANDA,

24th November, 2012

PREAMBLE

We, Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), meeting in Kampala, Uganda, on 22nd November 2012, at the invitation of H.E. President Yoweri Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of the ICGLR, to discuss the security situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo;

Recalling the decisions of our previous Extraordinary Summits, held in Addis-Ababa on 15th July 2012, and Kampala on 7-8 August 2012, on 8th September, 2012 and again on 8th October 2012 in particular the decisions to establish the Neutral International Force to combat negative forces in Eastern DRC in line with the mandate derived from the ICGLR Pact on Security Stability and Development and its relevant instruments, and the establishment of the Humanitarian Trust Fund;

Reiterating the primary responsibility of the region to find lasting solutions to peace and security challenges in the region;

Cognisant of the gravity of the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that constitutes a serious threat to peace, security, stability and development in the entire Great Lakes Region;

Having received reports from the Committee of Ministers of Defence and the Regional Inter ministerial Committee (RIMC) on the security situation in Eastern DRC, in particular the Concept of Operations for the Neutral International Force;

Gravely concerned about the advance and capture of the city of Goma and the town of Sake in Kivu Province, of the DRC, by the M23 rebel movement in spite of the directive of the previous Summits of ICGLR to cease hostilities and remain in positions they occupied in July 2012;

Recalling our firm commitment to the ICGLR Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region of 15th December 2006 and its related Protocols;

Appreciating the statement and offer of support by the representative of the UN Secretary General;

Welcoming the offer of support by the Republic of South Africa to the Neutral International Force;

HEREBY DECIDE AS FOLLOWS:

I/ SECURITY SITUATION IN EASTERN DRC

1. The DRC Government to listen, evaluate and resolve the legitimate grievances of M23 including taking into account the report of the work already done by the ICGLR;

2. M23 to stop expanding the war forthwith and stop talk of overthrowing an elected Government;

3. M23 to stop all war activities and withdraw from Goma;

4. M23 to withdraw from current positions to the ground of tactical importance not less than 20km from Goma town within 2 days;

5. At Goma airport, deploy a Composite Force comprising: one company-Neutral Force, One company-FARDC and the DRC army and one company- M23;

6. In Goma town, to deploy one battalion of FARDC and the DRC national police (those that were deployed there before);

7. The Police that were disarmed in Goma by M23 to be rearmed so that they resume duty;

8. MONUSCO to occupy and provide security in the neutral zone between Goma and the new areas occupied by M23;

9. This process shall be supervised by Chiefs of Defence of Rwanda, DRC and led by the Chief of Defence Forces of Uganda, with the participation of other Chiefs of Defence Staff from other member states;

10. Expressed gratitude to the Republic of South Africa for the offer to provide logistical support to the Neutral International Force;

11. Support the efforts of the Chairperson of the ICGLR to secure resources from South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, DRC, the AU, the UN and other partners for the NIF;

12. Appreciate the offer by the Government of Tanzania on the request of the Chair, to provide a Force Commander for the Neutral International Force;

II/ Admission of South Sudan to the ICGLR

13. Approve the application of the Republic of South Sudan to the ICGLR, and accordingly amend the ICGLR Pact to admit South Sudan as the 12th Member State of the ICGLR.

Done in Kampala, Uganda on 8th August 2012

1........................................................ 2.........................................................

H.E. JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS H.E PIERRE NKURUNZIZA

President of the Republic of Angola President of the Republic of Burundi

3....................................................... 4.........................................................

H.E. FRANÇOIS BOZIZE H.E. DENIS SASSOU-NGUESSO

President of the Central African Republic President of the Republic of Congo

5..................................................... 6.........................................................

H.E. JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE H.E. MWAI KIBAKI

President of the Democratic Republic President of the Republic of Kenya

of Congo

7.................................................... 8.........................................................

H.E. PAUL KAGAME H.E. OMAR HASSAN AHMED EL

President of the Republic of Rwanda BASHIR

President of the Republic of the Sudan

9................................................. 10.......................................................

H.E. JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE H.E. YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI

President of the United Republic President of the Republic of Uganda

of Tanzania

11..................................................

H.E. MICHAEL CHILUFYA SATA

President of the Republic of Zambia

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