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Great Lakes Foreign Ministers Set to Meet Over DRC Crisis

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni addresses the ruling party members in Entebbe, Uganda, April 24, 2012.
A Ugandan official says foreign ministers in the Great Lakes region are scheduled to begin discussions Wednesday to help resolve the Democratic Republic of Congo’s security crisis ahead of the African Union summit.

Ambassador James Mugume, permanent secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministers are expected to present a report to heads of state in the region. They in turn will discuss recommendations at the summit.

"The discussion between the acting minister of foreign affairs honorable Oryem and the executive secretary of the Great Lakes Conference met about two weeks ago, and it was decided that we should have a ministerial meeting urgently to address the situation in eastern DRC," said Mugume.

"This is a good time [to have the meeting] before the executive council of the AU [meet] and before the AU summit next weekend," he added.

Uganda announced it was convening an emergency meeting of eleven countries in the Great Lakes region to decide on urgent measures for defusing the conflict in DRC’s restive eastern region.

Uganda currently holds the chairmanship of the 11-member International Conference for the Great Lakes. The group aims to prevent conflicts with the potential for cross-border ramifications, while promoting sustainable peace, security and development.

Mugume expressed concern about the growing insecurity in eastern part of DRC which borders Uganda. He said Wednesday’s discussions are aimed at enhancing regional efforts to resolve the DRC’s security challenges.

"That’s the idea of the pact on peace, stability and development in the Great Lakes region to have regional solutions to regional problems. This is an attempt to have a regional solution to this problem," said Mugume.

He expressed apprehension about the conflict in the DRC.

"We are concerned both as a neighbor because we are affected, but also as chairman of the Great Lakes Conference. It is our duty to convene and try to find the solution to the problem," he said. "We are getting refugees, and that movement of people is always an indication of deeper problem, of conflict, in the area."

Ambassador Mugume expressed confidence the heads of state in the Great Lakes region will come up with solutions to the security crisis.

"I am confident that regional leaders will find a solution. We’ve had several problems in this area before, and we’ve been able to find a solution," he said.
Clottey int with Ambassador James Mugume, Permanent Secretary Uganda’s foreign ministry
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