Delegates attending the 4th International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) currently meeting in Kampala, Uganda, have faulted the body over the continued presence of negative forces in the region.
Such groups include the Forces Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
While some participants sought to paint a rosy picture, others said that a lot of lip service had been paid by the regional grouping, rather than taking concrete action on pressing issues like rebel groups still roaming the region.
“This is just diplomacy at play, the real issue of ridding the region of rebel groups has not been given the attention it deserves; it’s time for concrete action,” a participant who preferred anonymity said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told The New Times, yesterday, that the negative forces were costing the Great lakes region in terms of reputation.
“We believe no one would support these forces; it’s a question of pushing ourselves to action,” she notes.
In the past, there have been suggestions that the eleven countries that constitute ICGLR were in talks to jointly combat blacklisted negative forces in the region.
The majority of these groups are based in DR Congo and Central African Republic.
Several options, including working in partnership with the United Nations and the African Union have also been mooted before. Recently, new strategies were adopted during a meeting of defence ministers in Kigali.
The outgoing ICGLR Executive Secretary, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, admitted that insecurity was still a major problem, but added that much had been done to neutralize the forces compared to the past.
Uganda’s Minister of State for International Relations, Henry Okello Oryem, said the political relationship of member states has greatly improved and that there are efforts towards apprehending leaders of the rebel groups.
“The capacity of the rebel groups to carry out operations has greatly been reduced,” she said.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Bubacar Jallow, also recently requested some ICGLR member states to fully discharge their obligations in arresting Genocide fugitives.
ICGLR member states include; Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, , Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia.