Kabarebe, DRCís Tambo meet
RUBAVU – A high-level defence, military and security delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), over the weekend, held bilateral security talks with their Rwandan counterparts led by the Minister of Defence, James Kabarebe.
The DRC Minister of Defence, Alexander Luba Tambo, was accompanied by the Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Didier Etumba and the director general of security and intelligence services, Col. Kalev Mutond.
The ministers, who jointly addressed journalists after the meeting at Lake Kivu Serena hotel, said the bilateral talks were part to the ongoing joint efforts aimed at finding an immediate peaceful resolution of the renewed conflict in DRC’s North Kivu province.
A joint statement issued at the meeting indicated that the mandate of a joint intelligence operation between the two countries had been expanded to include verification of security threats along the common border.
It also said that Chiefs of Defence Staff from either side were assigned to design a joint operation plan against the FDLR militia, one of the many armed groups operating in eastern DRC.
The FDLR is an outfit that is mainly made up of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and have been a key factor in the instabilities that had dogged the region for the last decade and a half.
“The Chiefs of Defence Staff of Rwanda and DRC will present a joint plan of operation against the FDLR,” reads part of the statement.
The Chiefs of Intelligence of the two countries were also tasked to establish - within ten days - a mechanism of how to prevent actions that are detrimental to the Rwanda-DRC relations.
During the meeting, it was also agreed that the government of DRC creates favourable conditions to guarantee the repatriation of the refugees within the shortest time possible.
The two-week old conflict, which again escalated on Friday after a brief ceasefire, has seen thousands of Congolese refugees pouring into Rwanda. More than 8,000 are reported to have crossed the La Corniche border in Rubavu.
They are currently sheltered at the Nkamira Transit Centre in the western district of Rubavu, but the government said last week they would soon be transferred to a new camp in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province.
“The problem of refugees in Africa is not new, it’s a complex issue, we are reviewing our partnership with Rwanda to design measures of promoting security and peace along the borders, we are looking at stronger mechanisms to deal with the problem,’’ Tambo told journalists.
Apart from the refugees that crossed into the country over the last few days, Rwanda has played host to over 50,000 others who also fled from the volatile eastern DRC since the late 1990s.
The old caseload refugees are in three different camps.
Thousands others have also crossed into Uganda in the wake of the renewed conflict in the country’s east.
The Congolese forces are fighting mutinous soldiers, who previously belonged to the former CNDP and PARECO rebels groups, a situation that has worsened the fragile security in that region.
Minister Kabarebe said that bilateral review of the security situation on the ground, and the continued engagements will help promote peace and avert potential crises.
“Holding meetings itself and putting up mechanisms to restore peace and security in the region is very important; to review the situation, realign and design mechanism to deal with security as it evolves,” Kabarebe said.
The high level security meeting followed two recent ones as both sides continue to explore ways of resolving the latest crisis.
According to security sources, FDLR is taking advantage of the chaotic situation to re-arm and take new positions, as it continues to wreck havoc on civilian populations in eastern DRC.
“The Government of (DR) Congo is committed to fighting and defeating the negative forces; we want to re-affirm our commitment to this cause,” Minister Tumba said.
The meeting also decided that both sides continue to share information regarding the situation.