News / Africa

African Summit Fails to Agree on DRC Force Details

Rwanda President Paul Kagame, left, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, and DRC President Joseph Kabila, at the opening of the International Great Lakes Conference, Aug. 7, 2012
Rwanda President Paul Kagame, left, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, and DRC President Joseph Kabila, at the opening of the International Great Lakes Conference, Aug. 7, 2012
KAMPALA — The leaders of the African Great Lakes region announced Wednesday that they would deploy a neutral international force to expel rebel groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  However, there was no decision about what exactly the force would look like.  Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the group would meet again next month to discuss the issue further.

The announcement comes at the end of a two-day summit of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, held in the Ugandan capital.

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, conflict in the region has sent thousands fleeing over the border into neighboring Uganda.

At a press conference in South Africa on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Great Lakes leaders to work together to end the violence in eastern Congo.

"The decision by Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC to resume talks is an important step," she said. "There has been a steady trail of rampaging violence, rape, killing and terrible human rights abuses over the last several years by renegade criminal bands.  And we support the efforts of the DRC and we urge all the states in the region, including Rwanda, to work together to cut off support for the rebels in the M23, to disarm them and to bring their leaders to justice."

Both Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame attended the summit in Kampala, which was meant to defuse tensions between the two countries.  In a report in May, the United Nations accused Rwanda of supporting rebels in the mineral-rich eastern Congo.

Kagame insists Rwanda is not supporting M23, but still, mistrust between the two countries runs deep.

The Great Lakes leaders agreed on Wednesday to support Kabila’s government, and mandated a committee of ministers to work out the details of the international force.

After the summit, Ugandan Foreign Minister Oryem Okello told reporters that this agreement was a sign that presidents Kabila and Kagame are prepared to cooperate.

"I think the very fact that they accepted it, the very fact that they signed it, is a testimony that they are willing to go out there and create lasting peace in the region," said Okello. "So I think we should have no doubt about the intention, the motive and the political will that is there following this summit.  President Kagame and President Kabila are on talking terms, they are engaging each other, they would wish this issue to be resolved.”

Okello added that any regional force sent into eastern Congo would complement rather than replace the United Nations peacekeepers, MONUSCO, who are already operating in the DRC.

“You will appreciate that the MONUSCO mandate is limited to protection of civilians," said Okello. "Now we’re not talking about only protection of civilians here; we’re talking of a force that needs to be able to take action against those who are causing the insecurity in the region.  So the neutral force will have a broader mandate than MONUSCO’s mandate.”

This week's summit is a continuation of a conference held in Addis Ababa last month, in which Great Lakes leaders declared that they would work together to end the violence in eastern Congo.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid