KIGALI - Experts from the 11- member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), are meeting in Kigali to come up with strategies on how to make the region much safer.
The two-day meeting precedes that of Defense Ministers from member countries of the ICGLR which include, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The ICGLR notes that the presence of negative forces and illegal armed groups in the region, particularly in eastern DRC, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan, remain a major impediment to the region’s sustainable stability.
These include the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan militia group now operating in eastern DRC, Sudan and CAR, as well as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), another Ugandan militia group operating in the Ituri province of DRC.
Others are the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) and Burundi’s National Forces of Liberation (FNL), which is currently allegedly setting up bases in eastern Congo as well.
While opening the session, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mary Baine, noted that “without a proper and rapid response to that menace, all ICGLR goals as enshrined in the pact for security, stability and development will not be achieved.”
Baine noted that the government “will do everything in its capacity to make sure that peace, security and stability in the great lakes region is not jeopardised by these marauding negative armed forces.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza, emphasised that people in the region have, for long, suffered and endured the socio-economic, political and infrastructural destruction caused by negative forces.
Nziza said the endemic conflicts and persistent insecurity unleashed untold deaths and poverty “against our people,” and noted that there is no doubt that regional countries have the will to discuss and find a lasting solution to such threats.
Stephen Singo, the ICGLR Program Officer for Peace and Security, who chaired the session, told reporters that the meeting would also deliberate on how to effectively deal with the problem of the Al-Qaeda affiliate – Al-Shabab, in Somalia, within the context of the ICGLR and the East African Community (EAC).
On Friday, ICGLR defence ministers will meet to share important information and exchange views on how to combat common threats.
The ministers will develop a joint operational plan against the rebel forces and strengthen cooperation to deal with terrorism threats.