Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has warned the M23 rebels against using unconstitutional means to change government in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Museveni, the Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region—ICGLR, urges the DRC government and the rebels to resume talks to resolve the conflict amicably.
The President emphasized that if resolutions reached during the talks are implemented, it would enable the M23, who have been fighting the Joseph Kabila government since April 2012, to come out peacefully and solve issues. Uganda is mediating talks between the DRC and the M23 rebels.
Museveni was contributing during the 7th extra ordinary summit of the Heads of State and Government of the ICGLR at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo on Thursday.
Uganda is the current Chair of the ICGLR Summit which is convened to discuss the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Eastern DRC.
Presidents Joseph Kabila of DRC, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania attended the summit.
Museveni appealed to the international community to come to the aid of the Congolese refugees, saying the renewed fighting had created an influx into Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda. He said the ICGLR was working closely with the United Nations to solve the challenges in the DRC. More than 60,000 Congolese refugees are currently in Uganda.
Museveni revealed that there are many places near the Congo- Uganda borders that are occupied by terrorists. He commended President Joseph Kabila and the Congolese troops for eliminating Cobra, a terrorist who has been destabilizing the area near Bunia.
A communiqué from the ICGLR Summit presented by Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa reaffirmed the leaders’ support to the ongoing dialogue in Kampala between DRC Government and M23.
They strongly condemned the recent bombings in Munigi and Goma in DRC that resulted in the death of a Senior UN officer attached to the Intervention Brigade. They also condemned the bombings that killed civilians across the border in Rwanda. The ICGLR leaders directed the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism to complete the verification process and provide a report to the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers of Defence.
The Summit directed M23 to end all military activities and stop war and threats of overthrowing the lawful Government of DRC. It expressed strong concern on the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting in Eastern DRC and called on the International Community to provide urgent humanitarian assistance such as food, medicines, and tents among others.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma noted that the suffering of the Congo population had lasted too long. She said the AU was opposed to a change of democratically elected Governments by force of arms. She said that the stakeholders should accept to solve issues through dialogue.
The Summit came as the renewed fighting between the M23 rebels and a joint force comprising DRC forces and the UN intervention brigade in Goma entered the second week.
The ICGLR was however silent on the fall-out between Presidents Kikwete and Kagame over the situation in the DRC. Kikwete, whose country contributes forces to the UN Brigade, has been asking Kagame to dialogue with the former Rwandan army fighters who are now in the DRC. Rwanda has invaded DRC twice under the guise of fighting these fighters who are accused of orchestrating the 1994 genocide.