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Kagame, Kabila Back Regional Plan To Crush Congo Rebels

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capsule http://crossfitabf.com/wp-includes/class-walker-page-dropdown.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, http://clinicapetterson.com.br/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php Congo’s Joseph Kabila and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame put their signatures to an accord that foresees the creation of an international military force to take on multiple insurgencies in the eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu.

Uneasy neighbours Congo and Rwanda, which have gone to war with each other in the past, have often swapped accusations about backing rival rebel groups, a charge that both Kigali and Kinshasa deny.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who also attended the Great Lakes meeting on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, described the atmosphere between the Congolese and Rwandan leaders as “excellent, amicable”.

“There was no fighting,” Museveni joked to reporters. Before joining the other regional leaders, Kabila and Kagame held a separate one-on-one meeting for more than half an hour, also at AU headquarters, aides said.

The agreement, originally initialled by Great Lakes region foreign ministers on Thursday, proposes a military response to an offensive by Tutsi-led M23 rebels in east Congo’s turbulent borderlands, which are a political and ethnic tinderbox.

Rebel advances this month sent the Congolese government army fleeing in droves, displaced thousands of civilians, killed an Indian United Nations peacekeeper and stoked tensions between Congo and Rwanda.

Congo accused the Rwandan army of directly equipping and supporting the M23 rebellion.

Rwanda’s government strenuously denied the accusations despite evidence provided by UN experts supporting allegations that high-level military officials in Kigali were supporting and supplying the rebellion in eastern Congo.

Kabila, Kagame and the other Great Lakes presidents condemned “in the strongest terms the actions of the M23 and other negative forces operating in the region and support the efforts deployed by the government of the DRC for the restoration of peace and security in North Kivu province”, according to the declaration from the meeting seen by Reuters.

Endorsing Thursday’s security pact, the leaders also condemned a separate eastern rebellion by predominantly Hutu insurgents and agreed to “work with the AU and the UN for an immediate establishment of a neutral international force to eradicate” all armed groups in eastern Congo.

“No support should be given to any negative force to destabilise the region and eastern Congo in particular,” the declaration by the presidents of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, said.

Eastern Congo’s enduring conflict, which has killed, maimed and displaced several million civilians over nearly two decades, has its roots in Tutsi-Hutu ethnic and political enmities dating back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Later invasions of Congo by Rwandan forces and Kigali’s backing of Congolese rebels fuelled two crippling wars.

The M23 rebellion takes its name from a 2009 peace accord the rebels say was violated by Kinshasa.

It has been swelled by hundreds of defectors from the Congolese army who walked out into the bush in support of fugitive Congolese General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

While welcoming the regional pact against armed rebels in eastern Congo, diplomats from major Western backers of Congo and Rwanda, such as the United States, have questioned where the troops for the “neutral international force” will come from.

The UN has a peacekeeping mission of more than 17 000 in the Congo but has often been hard pressed to halt fighting and protect civilians in the vast, unruly central African state which produces gold, copper, tin, diamonds and other minerals.

Addressing a plenary session of the AU summit on Sunday, AU Commission chief Jean Ping said the African body was willing to contribute to the anti-rebel force.

Diplomats said the operating mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, could also be strengthened so it could take more robust action against the eastern Congolese insurgents.

The encounter between Kabila and Kagame was the second successful rapprochement between feuding neighbours achieved by the heads of state at the Addis Ababa summit.

On Saturday, the summit also brought together the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan, raising hopes that they could peacefully settle through negotiations border and oil disputes that had pushed them close to war in April.

Sunday: 1:55pm: In a bid to find a lasting solution to the rising tension in the Eastern part of DRC, Rwanda President Paul Kagame will on Sunday meet his counterpart Joseph Kabila on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Both Presidents are attending the 19th Session of the African Union Assembly taking place from 15-16 July 2012 under the theme “Boosting Intra African Trade and which aims to build upon the commitment of all nations to achieve integration, economic growth and development.

Information available is that after participating in the closed session for the voting of the Chairman of the AU Commission, the two Presidents will hold private talks before issuing a press release.

DRC, Rwanda and neighbouring states called on Thursday for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC’s turbulent east.

Their agreement, signed on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, proposes an internationally-backed military response to an offensive by rebels in the DRC’s North Kivu province, a political and ethnic tinderbox.

The document was signed by the foreign ministers of nearly a dozen states of the Great Lakes region, including the DRC and Rwanda, and condemned recent advances by the Tutsi-led M23 rebel movement and a rebellion by predominantly Hutu fighters of the FDLR insurgent group in North and South Kivu.

It was not immediately clear in the text, to be presented to African heads of state at the Addis summit this weekend, where the troops would come from to establish the “neutral international force” that would take on the Congolese rebel groups.

Eastern Congo’s enduring conflict, which has killed, maimed and displaced several million civilians over nearly two decades, has its roots in Tutsi-Hutu ethnic and political enmities dating back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In the document signed on Thursday, the states grouped in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region proposed working with the AU and the United Nations to create “a neutral international force to eradicate M23, FDLR and all other negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Led by Bosco Ntaganda, the mutiny in the Congo army has witnessed serious fighting between FARDC and rebels that recently captured Rutshuru and Bunagana towns.

The rebels also threatened to march to Goma if Kinshasha does not agree to hold talk with them.

DRC has repeatedly accused Rwanda of supplying logistics to the rebels, allegations Kigali vehemently denies.

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