8 January 2013

Congo-Kinshasa: AU Committed to DR Congo Peace Efforts

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
Displaced families find shelter at an orphanage in Goma,two days after M23 rebels claimed control of the city (file photo).

The African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, has said AU is interested in finding the root causes and solution to the crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He made the remarks yesterday while speaking to journalists shortly after meeting President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro.

"The eastern DRC crisis needs serious attention and AU is eager to find the lasting solution to the root causes of the crisis. During my visit I was able to visit the refugee transit centre at the border of Rwanda and DRC and I had interactions with people to make better judgment of the situation," he said.

He also visited the former Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) combatants undergoing reintegration at Mutobo and Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission premises.

Lamamra, who arrived in Rwanda from DRC last Friday for a four-day visit, also toured Burundi-Rwanda border to assess the security situation.

During his visit, the AU official met high-level officials and discussed the situation in the Great Lakes region as part of efforts to find the lasting solution to the crisis in eastern DRC.

"I have been able to get deep knowledge about Rwanda's efforts towards finding a solution to the crisis in the eastern DRC," he noted.

Lamamra reiterated that the ongoing crisis in eastern DRC will be on the top of the agenda during the upcoming AU Heads of State summit slated for January 27-28 2013.

"AU is important to the region and, therefore, we need to be sensitive to the expectations and hopes of the people, assist in any way we can to the governments in the region to dispel any misunderstandings, and address the root causes to the problems so that solution become long lasting," he explained.

The eastern DRC crisis worsened in April last year, when the M23 rebels started fighting and later captured Goma, but pulled out after the Kinshasa government agreed to hold talks with them.

Happy with the AU

Several options have since been considered to restore peace in the war torn country, including the deployment of a Neutral International Force.

The AU official said that his discussions with President Kagame mainly focused on a wide range of issues regarding Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, AU 50th anniversary and security situation on the Africa continent, particularly in the Great Lakes region.

"Meeting the regional leaders was really important, as we are preparing for the reports to submit to the next AU Summit that is scheduled to take place later this month in Addis baba," Lamamra stated.

Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs who attended the meeting between the AU official and Head of State, said that AU has expressed interest in understanding the root causes to eastern DRC crisis.

"To end Congo crisis which has been there for so many years, it's not about concentrating on resolving the eastern part of the DRC only but to look for the root causes of the conflict and address it," she told journalists.

"We are happy the AU has taken the crisis seriously and is enough on finding solutions to the root causes to the problems, for stance the upcoming AU Heads of State Summit is expected to discuss more extensively the DRC crisis and help find the lasting solution to the crisis," Mushikiwabo added.

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