Congo crisis needs regional solution – Swedish minister

KIGALI - The visiting Swedish minister for International Development and Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson has called for a regional approach in ending internal conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “I’m really shocked by what is happening there. The region should have a political solution to this problem. Programmes like reintegration and disarmament should be implemented,” Carlsson told journalists. Carlsson who arrived in the country en route from DRC was addressing a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande at the latter’s offices in Kigali yesterday.
State Minister for regional Cooperation Rosemary Museminari welcomes Sweden’s Minister for International Development and Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. (Photo/J. Mbanda)
State Minister for regional Cooperation Rosemary Museminari welcomes Sweden’s Minister for International Development and Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. (Photo/J. Mbanda)

KIGALI - The visiting Swedish minister for International Development and Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson has called for a regional approach in ending internal conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “I’m really shocked by what is happening there. The region should have a political solution to this problem. Programmes like reintegration and disarmament should be implemented,” Carlsson told journalists. Carlsson who arrived in the country en route from DRC was addressing a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande at the latter’s offices in Kigali yesterday.

The minister urged DRC to respect the Nairobi communiqué by disarming and expelling Rwandan genocidal forces operating on her territory. The Rwandan militias – Interahamwe and ex-FAR – which are largely blamed for the 1994 Genocide, are currently embodied in what is called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Under the Nairobi deal signed by Rwanda and DRC on November 9, 2007, Kinshasa pledged to disarm and repatriate FDLR by March this year.

Carlsson, who held meetings with several officials and visited Kigali Genocide Memorial site hailed Rwanda for her efforts in building peace and stability in the region and in Sudan.

“The international community should contribute immensely in dealing with those that still harbour genocide ideology. People that participated in the 1994 Genocide should face the law,” she said in a separate phone interview.   Dr Murigande castigated the UN Security Council for not giving the UN mission in Congo (Monuc) a strong mandate to demobilise negative forces in the DRC.

“No country would not be concerned when close to 10,000 people armed with genocide ideology are moving up and down freely,” he said in reference to FDLR rebels, which have bases in Congolese areas close to Rwanda.

However, Murigande expressed optimism that with the US-backed Tripartite Plus Commission mechanism, plus other ongoing efforts, the problem would be addressed.
The Tripartite Plus Commission mechanism comprises of four countries namely, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, and Burundi.

Meanwhile, Murigande told journalists at the same press conference that Rwanda never received any official invitation to attend the on-going Kivu peace conference in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He said that his Congolese counterpart Mbusa Nyamwisi only gave a last minute invitation to the special presidential envoy to the Great Lakes region Ambassador Dr Richard Sezibera.
“We received a letter from Monuc that was inviting Ambassador Sezibera on January 5 yet the conference was scheduled to begin the following day. We don’t regard that as an official invitation because that is not how governments work,” he said.

The two-week Kivu peace and development conference organised by the Congolese government brings together politicians, regional observers, and tribal chiefs.

The conference, which is attended by Congolese rebel leader Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s delegates, seeks to bring peace to the region dogged by deadly violence and militia activities for years now.

However, Congolese President Joseph Kabila is absent at the meeting, which sources say is attended by elements from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels.However, Murigande reiterated Kigali’s commitment to provide its modest contribution in efforts to pacify eastern DRC.

On Rwanda-Sweden relations, Murigande hailed Sweden for its support to the country following the 1994 Genocide.

He attributed the development strides Rwanda has registered thirteen years after the Genocide to foresighted leadership and the excellent relations between the country and the international community.

He said the Rwanda and Sweden particularly work closely in Darfur, Sudan where up to 3, 500 Rwandan soldiers are part of a hybrid UN-AU force which took over from an African mission on January 1.

The minister said that the peace mission will provide a better framework through which both countries will further their joint peace efforts.
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