The New Times (Kigali)

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Senators On Diplomacy Tour to Rwanda

About eight top Congolese Senators are expected to arrive in Rwanda today for a three-day visit aimed at promoting parliamentary diplomacy as well as regional peace.

Root causes of conflict in the DRC and the role of lawmakers in finding sustainable solutions as a gateway to lasting peace in the region are other issues said to be on the team's agenda.

The delegation, led by the DRC Senate's president Léon Kengo Wa Dondo, is expected to hold meetings with their Rwandan counterparts including Senate president, Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo.

"There are three key objectives of their visit. One is to look into why the region has armed militia and, number two is, to reflect on what has been done in terms of finding lasting solutions to problems as well as sustainable peace, for the region," Augustin Habimana, the Director General of Communication and Outreach at Parliament said yesterday.

"The third objective is considering the role of both Parliaments, especially the two Senates, in finding solutions to prevailing regional conflicts and bringing about sustainable peace."

The main meeting on promoting parliamentary diplomacy will be between the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security of the Rwandan Senate and the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate of the DR Congo.

According to a provisional programme provided by Habimana, the visitors would tour several areas of the country.

Today, they are scheduled to visit Gihembe Refugee camp, terraces in Gicumbi as well as the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi. The visitors will also tour Rwanda-DR Congo border areas in Rubavu district, Nkamira transit camp, and Mutobo demobilisation Centre.

DR Congo conflict:

Conflict in eastern DR Congo heightened last year - largely between the Government of DRC and M23 mutineers - even as regional leaders scrambled to help find a lasting solution. It is feared that continued insecurity in the region will only have disastrous consequences not only to the DR Congo but to neighboring countries including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

Fierce fighting between two rebel factions of M23 broke out in March with one group led by Gen. Sultani Makenga causing 1,500 people, including 682 rebel fighters, led by ex-political leader Runiga, to flee to Rwanda.

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