NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20 – Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula on Saturday appealed to the Great Lakes states and the international community to donate generously in raising funds for the reconstruction and development of war-ravaged nations in the region.
Mr Wetangula who also chairs the Regional Inter-Ministerial committee said currently the special funds kitty holds $12.5 million largely donated by the African Development Bank.
“The fund has picked up not satisfactorily though we hope and believe that our friends and development partners who have walked along this path of not only resolving conflicts but also focusing on developments in the region will put more resources to enable us carry out our programmes,” he said at the opening of a meeting for Foreign Affairs Ministers from the Great Lakes nations.
The meeting held in Nairobi was also attended by African Union deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha and the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Ambassador Liberata Mulamula.
Mr Wetangula said the fund will help in undertaking Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration of ex-combatants as a means of conflict resolution, “such peace can only last and be durable if there are attendant peace dividends in terms of development.”
The Minister also called on the United Nations (UN) Security Council to expand the mandate of operations of the U.N. Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) to enable forces deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure lasting peace.
He said MONUC’s mandate includes taking action to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence but that U.N. troops are for now "not equipped, trained or configured to intervene rapidly to assist those in need of such protection."
“The council will have to consider reconfiguring and re-equipping contingents if MONUC is to protect civilians more effectively,” he said.
“The additional 3000 that we wish to add will be truly meaningful to the process of peace in that country if the security council can adjust their mandate so that they are more proactive and more involved to the extent that they should not only keep the peace but help in peace making,” he added.
“Without peace and security any attempts on human development always fail and I dare say that Africa has had more than its fair share of unhelpful destructive and wasteful conflicts."
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who is spearheading the DR Congo crisis talks told reporters that he was optimistic a lasting solution will be found soon.
“We are heading to dialogue that will lead to meaningful action,” he said without any further elaboration on the exact action and time frame.
Mr Obasanjo who was accompanied by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa was speaking shortly after holding a closed-door meeting with the foreign ministers at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) where he briefed them on the progress so far made.
The foreign ministers were expected to issue a joint communiqué late Saturday on recommendations and resolutions reached at the conference.
The Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee (RIMC) which brought together 11 Foreign Ministers was aimed at reviewing security situation in Eastern DRC, the general situation in the Member States and implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region.
The RIMC meeting is the policy organ of the ICGLR. It consists of the Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs of Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
The co-opted countries are Botswana, Ethiopia, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.