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Resume talks with rebels, regional leaders urge Congo

By Ivan Rugambwa

The Congo government and the M23 rebels must hold talks if the conflict in Eastern DRC is to be concluded, regional leaders have said.

The call was part of the resolutions arrived at by the regional heads of state as they concluded their one day meeting, called by President Museveni, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region(IGCLR) aimed at finding a solution to the new wave of fighting that broke out in Congo.

The meeting was attended by the Presidents of Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and the host –Uganda, including representatives from Kenya and Sudan. The meeting was attended by the UN Special representative to the Great Lakes region Mary Robnison and the chairperson of the African Union Commission-Delamni Zuma.

The meeting of the heads of State took place on the heels of another extra-ordinary meeting of regional ministers of defense and Foreign Affairs also aimed at resolving the conflict in the Congo, also taking place at the Common Wealth Resort Munyonyi.

The regional leaders gave the Congo government an ultimatum of three days (after) the meeting to resume talks, which are expected to be completed with in 14days.

President Museveni, in his message to the regional leaders called upon the two fighting sides in the Congo to talk, noting that it would help establish peace in the region, and bring an end to the fighting. “If the dialogue we had today with President Joseph Kabila and the Kampala talks facilitator, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, is adhered to, it will facilitate the M23 to come out peacefully so that the Intervention Brigade and the UN forces deal with other issues of crime.” He said.

The regional leaders also condemned the recent killing of the UN Peace keepers, as well as the bombing of civilian villages along the Rwanda – DRC border. They tasked the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism(EJVM)  to investigate the bombing incidents, and also urged the UN to continue pressurizing the M23 and the other ‘negative forces’ in the Congo to stop fighting.

Museveni also expressed optimism that the situation would stabilize because Africans were now taking charge of their own affairs.
“I want to inform this conference that I have been watching the African continent for over 50 years. Where Africa takes the lead, solutions are always found. It was the case for the liberation struggle in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Guinea Bissau.” He said.

The meeting was also expected to grant Presidents, Kagame and Kikwete of Rwanda and Tanzania respectively to iron out their differences that have of recent dominated regional headlines.

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