Raisethefist.com: African leaders fail to agree on Congo force
African leaders fail to agree on Congo force
by anonymous Wed Aug 8 16:39:05 PDT 2012
African leaders failed on Wednesday to agree on the make-up of a proposed neutral force to tackle the insurgency in eastern Democratic of Congo, diplomats at a regional meeting said.
Fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces has displaced nearly half a million people since April. Regional leaders last month brokered a deal for a "neutral force" to be set up to take on Congo-based rebel groups.
But the heads of state of east and central African nations meeting to discuss the eastern Congo crisis were divided over whether the troops for a mission to Congo would be drawn from regional countries alone, or would be an international force.
Rwanda and Uganda, under pressure from the West to cut all links to the M23 insurgency, want a regional force to tackle the rebels. But Congo has in the past resisted such calls, favoring an expanded role for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo.
All 11 members of the International Conference of Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) signed a final communique in Kampala, pledging to seek "home-grown solutions" to the fighting.
But a diplomat who declined to be identified said the agreement lacked any real solutions about which countries would provide the troops and who would fund them.
"They've just kicked the can down the road," he said.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said the heads of state would meet again in four weeks to discuss the findings of defense ministers who were asked to look into the size and make-up of such a force and its logistical requirements.
The U.N. Security Council last week demanded an end to foreign support for the Tutsi-led M23 rebels, a rebuke diplomats said was aimed at Rwanda and Uganda.
Rwanda has denied accusations by U.N. experts that its military officials have provided equipment and recruits for the M23 rebellion. Uganda has also rejected similar accusations.
Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem told reporters Congo President Joseph Kabila has agreed for troops from regional ICGLR states to tackle the M23 rebels.
But Congolese Defence Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo did not confirm this. He said the "composition and the size of the international neutral force" was to be discussed when the committee of defence ministers meets.
Benjamin Mbonimpa, a member of M23's political wing, said representatives from his group were ready for dialogue.
"In my opinion they haven't moved forward," he said. "We are actors in the conflict, but the Congolese government wants to negotiate with other actors who aren't on the ground."