The Democratic of Republic of Congo is satisfied with the outcome of the summit of the heads of state in the Great Lakes region held recently in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, according to a government official.
Information Minister Lambert Mende said the leaders have agreed to an international neutral force, which he said, would be deployed to the country’s restive North Kivu provinces within three months.
The force, Mende said, would play a significant role in helping the Congolese’s national army (FARDC) put an end to the violence by well-armed insurgents such as the M23 rebel group.
Mende said the African Union (AU) and the United Nations would provide the command structures of the neutral force. He said countries such as Tanzania and member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have already made it clear that they are going to contribute troops in that force.
“We think that the conclusions are very positive, for the sake of peace in that region,” Mende said.
Media in Uganda reported that the regional leaders instructed Kenya, Tanzania, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to form a force of 4,000 troops to fight the rebels in DRC under an African Union mandate.
In a statement, the regional leaders called on the international community to support the troop deployment financially and logistically.
“We request the chairman of the [International Conference on the Great Lakes Region] to formerly request African States, regional and International partners to provide financial, logistical and technical support for the operationalization of the neutral international force,” the statement read.
Mende dismissed suggestions that the regional summit ended with no major progress to end the conflict in the DRC. He insisted that his government has received significant support to end the country’s conflict after some member states pledged troops to serve as part of an international force.
“You know that we have enemies of peace in that region and they were a lot in that Kampala meeting,” he said. “So they might take their dream for reality. But, we are really very near to attaining our objective of bringing in peace in that region.”
Regional experts have expressed concerns about recent defections from the Congolese army, which they said contribute to the military’s low morale. But Mende disagreed.
“The morale of the DRC [army] is not weak,” Mende said. “We have been attacked by our neighbors [and] these attacks were very long prepared by the Rwandese government.”
But, Rwanda has denied accusations that it is supporting rebels, including the M23 group.
Clottey interview with Lambert Mende, DRC's information minister