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Regional Leaders to Discuss DRC Troop Deployment

August 06, 2012

by James Butty

Leaders from 11 countries who make up the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region are expected to meet Monday in Kampala to discuss a new plan to deploy an international force in Democratic Republic of Congo to expel fighters there.

Rwanda and Uganda, two countries accused of involvement in eastern Congo, are expected to attend the meeting.

The United Nations has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, a charge Rwanda denies.

Also Monday, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, begins a three-day trip to the DRC to assess the humanitarian situation in the country’s east.

Congo’s Information Minister, Lambert Mende, said Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers are not expected to be part of the proposed force.

“It is an international force. It must go beyond the region. It is a neutral force, that is to say that neither Congo nor Rwanda can be part of this force, or any other country that can be suspected of not being neutral in this very, very long conflict,” he said.

Uganda denies its forces are helping rebels in the DRC. It reportedly said some Congolese rebels are wearing Ugandan army uniforms.

Mende said his government has received information of Ugandan involvement in DRC, but said the allegation is still under investigation.

“We have received such information; we have shared it with our partners of the Ugandan government, and, of course we are still investigating. They have denied [the allegation] and, of course, we have not yet come to the conclusion of our investigation,” Mende said.

He said his government would appeal to UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, who, according to reports, begins a three-day trip to the DRC Monday, to increase humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the fighting.

“We are waiting for her in Kinshasa, as well as in Goma, where hundreds of thousands of people are really starving, are living under very poor conditions due to that war that is being imposed again on the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are waiting for her to increase assistance to those people,” he said.

Mende said his government will also point out to Amos human rights violations that are being carried out by M23 rebels.

“We have a lot of criminal record about the M23 or the so-called mutiny of M23. But, we know that they are proxy forces of somebody in Rwanda to continue looting our country,” he said.


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