Neutral Force dominates DRC talks in Kampala
The International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) Heads of State Summit kicked off in Kampala yesterday with the regional leaders discussing the possibility of establishing a neutral international force to uproot armed groups in Eastern DRC.
The Presidents of other six member states have sent high level officials to represent them at the summit that closes today.
Foreign affairs ministers on Monday endorsed the proposal of establishing a regional force whose source of funding will be discussed at a meeting later this month in Addis Ababa.
“We are expecting the Presidents to endorse our discussions today (yesterday),” Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told The New Times yesterday.
“All I can say is that all is going on well at the Heads of State meeting,” Mushikiwabo added.
The Heads of State are expected to issue a communiqué today on a number of issues on how the DRC can be pacified.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem told reporters that he was optimistic that the meeting would offer a lasting solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC.
Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that there was general consensus in all meetings that the force should be constituted by soldiers from ICGLR member states and that funding should come from Africa not any external source.
Meanwhile, ICGLR Foreign Ministers have tasked the Levy Mwanawasa Regional Centre in Lusaka, Zambia to collect and analySe various reports and studies produced on the situation in Eastern DRC and make recommendations.
The ministers asked former Presidents Benjamin Mkapa from Tanzania and Olusegun Obasanjo from Nigeria to continue with efforts aimed at finding solutions to the Eastern DRC insecurity.
“Priority should be given to the nationals from member states when experts and consultants are selected to assist in the work of the team of Special envoys and the Ad Hoc Group of experts,” they further requested.
The Ad Hoc Group of Experts has been tasked to have military, human rights, legal and diplomatic expertise as well as have UN and AU operations experience to handle the assignment of ensuring peace returns to the DRC.