17 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: M23-Kinshasa Talks Get $500,000 Financial Boost

Photo: Irin
A woman and her family flee ongoing fighting between M23 rebels and government forces outside Sake, near Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, linked to American billionaire Warren Buffett, has pledged US$500,000 to facilitate ongoing negotiations between the DRC government and M23 rebels in Uganda, it was announced on Monday.

The contribution was announced by Howard G. Buffett, President of the Foundation, upon returning from one-on-one meetings in the region with DRC President Joseph Kabila, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and Uganda leader President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the facilitator of the talks.

In a joint statement released Monday, the leaders said the grant will pay for transportation, lodging and communications costs incurred by the government of Uganda in taking on this role, with the goal of ensuring all parties engaged in the negotiations are provided the opportunity to participate in a fair and inclusive process.

"There have been many misleading accounts about the situation in eastern DRC," said President Kagame. "Mr. Buffett has a long history of working in the region and took the time to come and meet with key stakeholders in person to determine how he and his Foundation could best support the Congolese people in moving towards peace and prosperity. We applaud Mr. Buffett's support for the peace process, to realize our shared belief in the importance of peace and stability for the progress of this region."

President Museveni for his part said: "The solutions to the challenges in eastern Congo require support from the entire region and the political will from all parties to bring about lasting peace,"

"Uganda will continue to do what we can to facilitate the negotiations process, and we appreciate Mr. Buffett's contributions to those efforts," he added.

After a series of meetings among key leaders in the region, the Ugandan government, current chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, offered to host peace negotiations in Kampala and serve as lead mediator of the process, a leadership role supported by the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The talks begun December 09 and had been scheduled to conclude in part on December 18, but have been extended to December 31.

The recent conflict in eastern Congo has displaced over 750,000 people from their homes since early May.

"There is an intrinsic connection between conflict, hunger and poverty," said Mr. Buffett. "War has a profound economic and political impact, substantially increasing the probability of a recurrence of conflict. We must, once and for all and collectively, support the government of DRC to bring peace to eastern Congo and address the underlying systemic issues that are fueling this cycle of conflict."

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has invested over $50 million since 1999 and committed an additional $40 million over the next two years to the Great Lakes Region to support food security, economic development and mitigate conflict and its effects.

Howard G. Buffett is the oldest son of American billionaire Warren Buffett. He has established himself as a peace philanthropist in his own right.

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