unhealthy http://constinta.com.br/v1/media/widgetkit/widgets/gallery/gallery.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>According to Uganda’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero, “Heads of State of the Great Lakes region are gathered in Kampala this morning to find a solution to the fighting in DRC,” adding, “Top on the agenda is a halt to combat.”
South Africa, Tanzania and DRC forces have in recent months been battling M23 rebels in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving hundreds of civilians and combatants dead.
Thousands of civilians have been displaced to Uganda and Rwanda refugee camps.
The fighting has also led to the collapse of peace talks between DRC and the M23 rebels in Kampala.
According to the leader of the M23 delegation in Kampala, Rene Abandi, “The DRC team that is supposed to be here for talks is nowhere to be seen. Kabila has pursued the path of war which is against the ceasefire agreement signed before leaders of the Great Lakes region.”
Following the breakout of an internal insurrection led by M23 mutineers in DRC in 2012, regional leaders under the chairmanship of President Yoweri Museveni managed to broker a ceasefire between the rebels and government.
Museveni further encouraged the rebels to pull out of captured towns of Goma, Sake among others to pave way for peace talks.
Kabila pledged to halt the offensive, demilitarize Goma and listen to the M23 grievances I a bid to find a long lasting and political solution to the crisis.
However, the United Nations later deployed an Intervention Brigade to combat rebels, compelling Kinshasha to withdraw from the peace talks.
DRC would later join hands with South Africa and Tanzania to attack the M23 Movement, a move rebels say contravenes the ceasefire agreement signed under the auspices of ICGLR.
Rwanda has since fallen victim to the fighting in the war-torn country, with DRC forces firing rockets in Rubavu District, killing a woman and injuring her baby.
Angered by the continuous shelling of its territory, Rwanda responded by deploying heavy weaponry at its border with DRC, raising fears of a possible all-out war.
Sources told Chimpreports that it was Museveni who persuaded Kagame not to respond to the DRC attacks.
“Otherwise Kagame had finalized his plans to attack DRC to protect his people and their property from destruction. He was very determined,” a highly-placed source told Chimpreports on Thursday morning.
Tanzania and DRC believe Rwanda backs M23, a charge Kigali vehemently denies.
It is also important to note that Rwanda and Tanzania have been on bad terms after Kikwete told a closed-door meeting at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia that Kigali must hold negotiations with the FDLR militia in DRC.
The comments drew fire from Rwanda, with Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo describing Kikwete’s remarks as “shocking” and “aberrant.”
Kagame also slammed Kikwete for being a spokesperson of the militia accused of perpetrating the 1994 Rwanda genocide and committing atrocities such as summary executions of civilians in the DRC.
Tensions further hit boiling levels with Kikwete deciding to expel all “illegal immigrants” at the border town of Kagera, sending thousands of Rwanda back home.
Five days ago, in an apparent retaliatory move, Kigali raised the road toll on all Tanzanian trucks entering Rwanda from $152 to $500, sparking off a protest by traders at the border.
Rwandan officials said the charge is meant to “level the playing field” considering that Rwandan truck drivers pay the same amount before entering Tanzania.
Fearing that the escalation of hostilities would touch off a regional war, the ICGLR last week called for a summit which is now taking place at Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo.
On Wednesday, regional foreign ministers argued that the allied forces’ assault on M23 territories must be halted with immediate effect to pave way for a political solution to the crisis.
The Ministers said the UN intervention Brigade should not be selective in applying its mandate and must take on Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), FDLR and other rebels that threaten regional peace.
Defence chiefs of regional countries also met at Munyonyo and are expected to present their resolutions to Defence Ministers for a briefing to the heads of state.
It is from that point that heads of state will determine the way forward.
Sources said the DRC government would be pushed to return to round table with rebels to avoid bloodshed and deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in Kivu.
In a recent statement, the ICGLR reiterated that “the Summit of ICGLR Heads of States and Government of 24th November, 2012 and that of July, 2013 mandated and reaffirmed the support to the political/diplomatic dialogue in Kampala, process aiming at allowing the DRC Government to listen, evaluate and resolve the legitimate grievances of M23 and M23 to stop expanding the war forthwith the process.”
“The ICGLR calls for the DRC Government and M23 to go back and conclude the dialogue process to allow for sustainable solution to the crisis. The ICGLR looks forward for cessation of hostility and solution that should preserve the national integrity of DRC and allow the region to enjoy peace and stability.