The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) will continue its diplomatic efforts to resolve the country’s security challenges in the restive north Kivu province, according to Information Minister Lambert Mende.
Mende said Kinshasa has been able to raise awareness about the need for a neutral international force to help defeat armed groups in the area that are often accused of violently attacking unarmed civilians.
"t is untrue to say that we have abandoned the diplomatic efforts," Mende said. "We have decided to advance with three kinds of efforts - diplomatic, military and political endeavors to call upon our people to support the resistance. We are waging to stop the invasion of our country."
His comments came after regional leaders at a recent summit meeting disagreed on the composition of a regional force to be deployed to the DRC. But, the leaders mandated a committee of ministers to work out the details of the international force.
Mende said the diplomatic and regional efforts form part of the government’s strategy to resolve the security crisis.
Critics described the regional heads of state summit as a failure, but information minister Mende disagreed.
“We have succeeded in bringing the heads of state meeting in Kampala to decide to set up a committee of defense ministers of all 11 countries… with an agenda to decide the neutral international force that would be deployed between the two countries [Uganda and Rwanda],” said Mende.
The defense ministers meeting is scheduled to be held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Wednesday. The ministers are expected to present their recommendations to the regional leaders who are also scheduled to hold another summit August 30 in Uganda.
Mende said the government wants to resolve the security problem quickly in order to reduce the loss of human life.
“We are very near our solution of having and international neutral force that can be partly served by MONUSCO [U.N. Peacekeepers] now. We think that this will work, and this will be [easier] to implement.”
The latest wave of violence in the DRC began in April, when a group of Congolese soldiers mutinied and formed the Tutsi rebel group M23. Since then, fighting in the region has sent thousands fleeing over the border into neighboring Uganda.
Analysts say there is diplomatic tension between Kinshasa and Rwanda following accusations that the Kigali government has been supporting rebels fighting the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in north Kivu province. But, Kigali has rejected accusations that it is supporting rebels, including the M23 group.