|Great Lakes summit ends without breakthrough on Congo||
Nearly a third of the regional leaders invited attended the summit of the 11-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), which was hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Saturday, AFP reported.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir travelled to the Ugandan capital for the meeting.
In July, Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, signed an accord that foresees the creation of a neutral international military force to combat rebels in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in the eastern Congo.
The agreement calls for the Great Lakes leaders to work with the African Union and the United Nations "for an immediate establishment of a neutral international force to eradicate M23, FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) and all other negative forces in eastern DRC, and patrol and secure the border zones."
Following Saturday's meeting, the leaders of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region said in a statement that only the neutral international force would be "deployed under the mandate of the African Union and the United Nations."
The ICGLR also said that regional defense ministers should meet immediately to work toward the "operationalization of the Neutral International Force within three months."
President Kagame did not attend the summit, but sent his defense and foreign ministers to Kampala.
Congo and Rwanda have repeatedly exchanged accusations concerning the support of rebel groups in each other’s territory.
On August 18, the 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) denounced Rwanda for backing rebel groups in the eastern Congo, saying Rwandan "interference" in the Congo was threatening regional peace and stability.
Since early May, over 220,000 civilians have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled inside Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
The March 23 movement (M23) rebels defected from the Congolese army in April in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
The mutiny is being led by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on a charge of recruiting child soldiers.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.5 million people dead.
(Source: Press TV)
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