Monday, 10 September 2012

Great Lakes region summit concludes with no major progerss on DR Congo fighting

KAMPALA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Great Lakes region summit concluded here on Saturday with no major progress on ending the fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee to neighboring countries.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, DRC's Joseph Kabila, South Sudan's Salva Kiir and other senior government officials from Rwanda, Zambia, Sudan, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Angola and Burundi concluded the two day summit weeks after they held a similar one on DRC.
The leaders agreed to meet again next month and a UN mini summit held late this month to resolve the fighting in eastern DRC.
In July, the regional leaders met on the sidelines of the African Union summit and agreed to deploy a neutral force to fight negative forces in eastern DRC including the M23 rebels that are responsible for the latest fighting.
At the just concluded summit the leaders were supposed to conclude on the finer details of the force and its operationalization.
During the closed door meeting, Tanzania was on the only country that committed troops although its troop numbers are not yet known.
The leaders, according to the communiqué, called upon other member states to make the same commitments within one month.
"The neutral international force should be deployed under the mandate of the African Union and the UN .. Urge the AU to seek UN support for the deployment of the neutral force," the communiqué read by Uganda's minister of state for international affairs Okello Oryem said in part.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement to the summit was critical of the regional efforts to ending the fighting militarily. He proposed continuous diplomacy.
"Military deterrence alone will not resolve the current crisis. I strongly encourage continued and strengthened high-level dialogue at the bilateral and regional level aimed at finding a durable solution, including through addressing the underlying causes of the conflict," Ban said in the statement read for him by Abou Mousa, Representative of the UN Secretary-General and also head of the UN regional office for Central Africa.
Ban expressed concern of over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern DRC.
During the meeting, Tanzania, Kenya and DRC contributed a total of two million U.S. dollars to the humanitarian trust fund that the states set up at the last summit.
Uganda already contributed one million dollars to the fund to provide the much needed relief to the Congolese refugees.
officials at the next summit scheduled for October 8 will again meet to discuss the conflict. (Xinhua)

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