Great Lakes leaders to talk security

An extra-ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government from the region is due today in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss matters pertaining to security situation in the Great Lakes Region.
Congolese refugees prepare to board a lorry at Goma to Nyakamira transit camp. The New Times/ File.
Congolese refugees prepare to board a lorry at Goma to Nyakamira transit camp. The New Times/ File.

An extra-ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government from the region is due today in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss matters pertaining to security situation in the Great Lakes Region.

The forum that was preceded by a two day- meeting of National Coordinators and Foreign affairs and defence ministers of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) focuses on finding the possible solutions to the root causes of conflicts in the region.

Ugandan President and the chairperson of ICGLR Yoweri Museveni is expected to officially open the special summit.

A statement by ICGLR said the forum will analyse challenges faced in implementing the UN and African Union framework agreement on peace, security and cooperation for DR Congo and the region.

Rwanda is a signatory to the peace framework signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by 11 regional countries, with the UN, African Union, ICGLR and SADC signing as guarantors.

The framework that was signed early this year in the presence of UN chief Ban Ki-moon requires DR Congo to deepen security sector reform, particularly with respect to the army and police; to consolidate State authority, particularly in eastern parts of the country, including preventing armed groups from destabilising its neighbours.

“When tensions erupt between states, the real added and undeniable value of ICGLR is to be able to provide space for dialogue and discussion, to always safeguard fundamental values of dignity, because we are the same, we are always together,” said Prof. Ntumba Luaba, the ICGLR executive secretary, at the ministerial meeting held yesterday ahead of the Heads of State summit.

Onus on generation

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said it is the role of the current generation of leaders to turn things around and give hope to the aspirations of people in the region to live in peace, security and prosperity.

Ruto said the region’s economic development had been compromised by incessant conflicts that have run for over a half a century.

“There is absolutely no reason why half a century later we still stumble in abject poverty, insecurity and instability,” the Kenyan deputy president told delegates attending the ministerial meeting.

“The framework for peace, stability and development should be supported by all countries in the region. There is an urgency to stop unnecessary wars that have only undermined socio-economic progress in a region endowed with vast resources.” 

Mary Robinson, the UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region, said the international community has consolidated efforts to find lasting solution to conflicts and underdevelopment in the region.

“International partners have strongly endorsed peace, security and cooperation framework for the Great Lakes region. We support initiatives that build on the nexus between peace, security and development alongside deeper economic integration,” Robinson said.

Presently, the region is ravaged by conflicts in DR Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, who is also in Nairobi, speaking in New York, last week, outlined Rwanda’s actions in keeping with its commitments under the DR Congo Peace Framework, including receiving and disarming Congolese refugees and combatants.

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