President Paul Kagame,João Lourenço of Angola, and their DR Congo counterpart and host Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi yesterday agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of security, with a particular aim to uproot all non-state armed groups and end threats to state security.
They made the declaration on Friday after their tri-partite meeting hosted by President Tshisekedi on the sidelines of his father’s national mourning ceremony.
A communiqué issued at the end of the three leaders’ meeting highlighted their agreement to strengthen cooperation between the three countries. The communique also stressed the importance of inviting other regional heads of state to the tripartite axis in order to “find ways to eradicate the phenomenon of Congolese and foreign armed groups and other questions related to security of the states”, they said in the statement.
They also agreed to revive efforts to promote peace and security through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an inter-governmental organisation made up of twelve countries in the Africa Great Lakes region.
ICGLR member states include Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The threat of non-state armed groups in the Great Lakes region remains active, with DRC’s forests still hosting both Congolese and foreign terrorist groups that threaten state and regional security.
The groups notoriously include Rwandan terrorist group FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), which is comprised of remnants of the genocidal forces that killed more than a million Rwandans during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Through collaboration with FARDC, the national army of the Democratic Republic of Congo, some FDLR commanders have been arrested and sent back to Rwanda to face justice.
The three presidents also agreed to further promote efforts to expand economic exchanges and trade in line with the need for regional cooperation and development.
Prior to the tripartite meeting, President Kagame was welcomed to the Presidential Palace in N’Sele by President Tshisekedi and First Lady Denise Tshisekedi.
Kagame later participated in a national mourning ceremony in the Congolese capital for Tshisekedi’s father, late Etienne Tshisekedi.
The latter’s body arrived in his home country on Thursday evening, two years after he died in Belgium at the age of 84.
Late Tshisekedi served his country in different capacities, including as interior minister and prime minister under the Mobutu Sese Seko regime.
Kagame paid his respects to the Senior Tshisekedi at Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecôtethe in Kinsasa, where a national mourning ceremony was held yesterday.