KIGALI - The Chief of General Staff (CGS) Gen. James Kabarebe arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Capital, Kinshasa yesterday to attend an extraordinary Tripartite Plus military chiefs meeting. The meeting is under the auspices of the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) which brings together Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. The meeting due to get underway in the Congolese town of Lubumbashi today follows a similar one held in Kigali in August.
High on the agenda for the Lubumbashi meeting, according to Military Spokesman Jill Rutaremera, is the review of joint operational plan for Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) against negative forces operating in the eastern DRC.
The negative forces include the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group largely composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide which claimed over a million lives. Gen. Kabarebe’s entourage includes the Head of Military Intelligence (J2) Brig. Gen. Jack Musemakweli.
All the Chiefs of General Staff/Chiefs of Defence Staff from the four countries had by press time arrived in DRC for the meeting.
During the Kigali meeting, the military chiefs agreed that a new technical joint team, the Joint Planning Cell (JPC), would first meet to lay ground for the joint FARC-Monuc operations against blacklisted rebel groups in the Congo.
The cell, which was set up in the Kigali meeting, comprises of military officers from intelligence and operation units of all the member states. Indeed, the team met for about a week in Kisangani, DRC from September 20.
Months ago, the Congolese army launched offensives against the negative forces particularly FDLR, but halted the operations shortly later ostensibly because of humanitarian concerns.
However, the Congolese Chief of General Staff Dieudone Kayembe promised in August that his country would resume military operations against the foreign rebels operating there.
Recently, sporadic fighting erupted in DRC between government forces and Congolese rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s troops.
Last week, President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila appealed to the UN to help flush FDLR and other foreign rebel groups out of Congo.
The two Heads of State also held talks on the sidelines of the United Nations 62nd General Assembly. Foreign ministers from the four TPJC member countries last month wrote a joint letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon requesting him to bolster Monuc with necessary mandate, equipment and personnel to disarm and repatriate the negative forces.
The UN maintains its largest peacekeeping force in the Congo, numbering 17,000. But the peacekeepers have had little impact to regional security, and have instead been marred by allegations of rape, and trade of arms and intelligence with FDLR in exchange for gold.
In a related development, military intelligence and operation officers from Rwanda and Uganda met last Thursday in Kigali in line with the two countries’ Joint Commission, a mechanism put in place to help build confidence between Kigali and Kampala following the infamous Kisangani clashes between their armies about seven years ago.
The mechanism was established at the initiative of Presidents Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
Meanwhile, General Kabarebe has sent a congratulatory message to Tanzania’s General Davis Mwamunyange for his appointment as chief of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF).
The CGS also sent a message of appreciation to the outgoing TPDF chief, Gen George Waitara, for the job well done.