DRCongo, Rwanda leaders to meet on neutral force

August 6, 2012 5:08 pm
A Ugandan soldier stands outside a destroyed hut in Napopo, north eastern Congo.

, KAMPALA, Aug 6 – The presidents of Rwanda and DR Congo will take part in a regional summit in Uganda Tuesday to agree on a neutral force tasked with policing their border and neutralising rebel groups, officials said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will host the two-day summit of 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) at a lakeside resort outside Kampala.

Kigali confirmed Rwanda’s Paul Kagame would attend while airport sources in Kinshasa said Congolese President Joseph Kabila was already on his way there.

The United Nations will also dispatch a representative to the summit, which aims to defuse mounting tensions between Rwanda and DR Congo, who have traded accusations of supporting eachother’s rebels.

Kinshasa charges that Rwanda is arming the M-23 mutiny which has battled regular forces in the eastern DR Congo since May while Kigali accuses its neighbour of plotting attacks with Rwandan Hutu rebels based in the same region.

A UN report published in June said there was ample evidence that Kigali was actively involved in the M-23 rebellion led by a renegade Congolese general who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Experts say the latest turmoil is the result of an ongoing battle for control of the mineral-rich region, in which Rwanda has long been accused of maintaining a stake by using Congolese militias as proxies.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame told AFP in mid-July that both sides had agreed “in principle” to accept a neutral force.

A meeting of regional defence ministers held in Khartoum last week was supposed to hammer out some of the details of the force, as Kigali and Kinshasa hold divergent views of which troops would be neutral.

Kinshasa has said it favours using MONUSCO, the 19,000-strong UN stabilisation force deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kigali, while it has not issued any outright public refusal of MONUSCO, argues that the UN force is anything but neutral.


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