AFRICA: Strengthening security is prerequisite for DRC - Rice
ADDIS ABABA, 5 December 2007 (IRIN) - Strengthening the security institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a prerequisite for long-term solutions to the country’s problems, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the media in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Rice met the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame as well as the DRC Foreign Affairs Minister, Mbusa Nyamwisi, to discuss the problems of the Great Lakes region.
"They decided to commit to the rapid strengthening of the security institutions of the DRC and to ask for international help in doing so," Rice said after her meeting. "They committed again not to harbouring negative forces, the illegal groups, militias and armed groups that are causing destabilisation."
Renewed fighting recently erupted in the volatile North Kivu province of DRC between forces loyal to dissident General Laurent Nkunda and the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC).
Nkunda, an ethnic Tutsi, says he is trying to protect the eastern DRC’s minority Tutsi population from Hutu militias known as the FDLR, which have links to the perpetrators of neighbouring Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Fighting intensified in August when Nkunda pulled out of a January peace agreement that saw his forces mixed with Congo's regular army.
Rice also held a meeting with the new prime minister of Somalia. "I am looking to meet the new prime minister of Somalia to encourage the broadest possible engagement of the forces that are not associated with terrorism," she said before her meeting. "We do believe that peace-keeping efforts need to take place in Somalia. We do believe that the Ethiopian forces should not have to stay in Somalia past a certain point but it's going to require peacekeeping forces to be fairly robust peace-keeping forces and so that will be part of my discussion."
After the talks, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein told the media that the discussion was "positive and good". He said the problems in his country needed to be solved and addressed, including improving the security environment and humanitarian operations.
"We have a good number of vulnerable people. Not only those displaced people that you can see outside and around Mogadishu; there are a large number which are not very clearly seen but we recognise this."
Asked whether he had discussed with Rice a timetable for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops, Hussein said the security forces were supporting the transitional institutions to put in place a secure environment.
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