EXCLUSIVE: Kabila, Kagame Disagree On Crushing Congo Rebels
DRC President Joseph Kabila has rejected a proposal by leaders of the Great Lakes region that a joint force of regional armies should be deployed to crush rebels holed up in the Eastern part of his country.
Kabila made the remarks yesterday during the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) Heads of State Summit at Common Wealth Resort, Munyonyo, Kampala.
Sources that attended the meeting have told Chimpreports.com that Kabila argued for the extension of the mandate of UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO in DRC to deal with the growing levels of insecurity in the region.
A 17,000-man MONUSCO is stationed in the strategic town of Goma. It spends $1.7bn on its operations annually.
Kabila said a resolution should be passed to empower MONUSCO with a mandate to start military operations against the rebels.
Kabila further stated that if any other forces were to be deployed in Eastern Congo, they should simply “supplement” the military operations of MONUSCO.
However, this was in contrast of the common view of other heads of state which was that all rebel forces in Eastern Congo must be incorporated into the DRC army and their leaders given political positions in Kinshasha while dissenting ones are crushed by a regional force.
Some of the presidents who are discussing the security crisis in Congo include Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame.
The meeting was chaired by President Yoweri Museveni.
On his part, said a source, Kagame said there was need to incorporate all militias in eastern Congo into FARDC.
He further stated that a joint force funded by African Union and the international community should enter Congo to flush out rebels who oppose integration.
Kagame further suggested that African union should appoint observers to monitor military operations against rebels to avoid any fears of looting of natural resources.
He also said reports on the situation in Congo should be compiled by special envoys of countries from the Great Lakes region not foreigners who are detached from the realities on the ground.
The heads of state are expected to make a joint communiqué on Wednesday on their resolutions on pacifying the Eastern part of Congo.
DRC accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23 rebels, allegations the two countries’ have vehemently denied.
In a related development, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told a press conference in Pretoria, South Africa that she hoped the nations taking part in the Kampala talks would show "restraint and mutual respect for sovereignty".
Clinton noted that several "renegade criminal bands", including M23, had left a trail of killings, rape and rights abuses across eastern Congo for a very period of time.
"We urge all the states of the region including Rwanda to work together to cut off support for the rebels in the M23, to disarm them and bring their leaders to justice," Clinton said.
Kagame has insisted Kigali has not sent even a “single bullet” to the M23 rebels.
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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