By Haggai Matsiko
Apart from presidents Yoweri Museveni, Jakaya Kikwete, Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila, also in attendance was South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, African Union Commissioner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region Mary Robinson, SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax, and EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera. Ministers from Burundi, Kenya Congo, Zambia, Malawi and a few ambassadors also attended.
The recommendations were a cocktail of tactical pragmatism and desperate compromises.
It was unclear what the leaders hoped to achieve by ordering that the Kampala talks between M23 and DR Congo resume within three days after the summit and conclude within a maximum period of 14 days. The Kampala Talks that started about a year ago have made little progress and had virtually ground to a halt. Even the penalty for further failure was couched in non-executable platitudes.
“If the dialogue is not concluded in the time agreed upon,” the official communiqué said, “the Chairman of the Summit shall consult his colleagues on the way forward.”
As a precondition for talks, the leaders demanded that the M23 put an “end to all military activities, and stop war and threats of overthrowing the lawful Government of DRC.” Although going into the talks M23 had virtually declared a unilateral ceasefire, it is unlikely they will stop war against Kabila.
Just a day after the summit, the M23 said it would only disarm if the FDLR is disbanded. M23 has in the past accused Kabila of supporting the FDLR, which they have also accused of attacking them and their people.
Having battled rebels in vain for several decades, it is not possible that the Kinsasha administration can meet these two conditions in a matter of days that the Presidents set for the talks with the M23 to have been concluded.
Still, the leaders committed to continue exerting pressure together with the Intervention Brigade, on the M23 and all other Negative Forces in Eastern DRC to ensure they stop war.
The officials also accepted the request by MONUSCO to have permanent representation in the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), and appealed to MONUSCO to provide logistical support to the EJVM to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively.
Finally, the presidents and other representatives also accepted the proposal by the SADC Summit held in Lilongwe on Aug.18 this year on convening a joint SADC-ICGLR Summit on the Great Lakes Region.
This decision is possibly the one that will have the most impact. Optimists hope the interaction will quell fears of the tension between DR Congo and Rwanda on one hand and Tanzania and Rwanda on the other sparking a regional war. A few days after the Kampala summit, Rwandan and Tanzanian officials moved to tackle the controversial issue of immigrants.