Defence chiefs meet over DR Congo conflict

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 04 Sep 2013

09/04/2013 12:55 GMT

KAMPALA, September 4, 2013 (AFP) - Defence chiefs and foreign ministers from Africa's Great Lakes region met Wednesday in the latest bid to end fighting in resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Congolese troops, backed by a special United Nations force, launched a fresh assault against the M23 army mutineers in the turbulent North-Kivu province late last month.

Conflict in the fertile and valuable mining region has in the past dragged regional powers into the fighting, with both Rwanda and Uganda accused of backing the M23, claims they flatly deny.

The meetings in the Ugandan capital come ahead of talks due Thursday between leaders of an 11-country regional bloc, where UN special envoy Mary Robinson is to join to push to revive stalled peace efforts.

"All the ministers of defence and foreign affairs are here," Ugandan foreign ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye told AFP.

DR Congo leader Joseph Kabila is due to attend the talks on Thursday, as well as Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, who is hosting the meeting.

African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is also expected to attend the Thursday talks of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the seventh such summit held to try to find a lasting solution.

The M23 was launched by Tutsi soldiers who mutinied from Congo's army in April 2012 and turned their guns on their former comrades.

Last week the rebels moved back from positions around Goma, a mining town and the capital of North Kivu province, which they seized for 12 days last November before pulling out under international pressure.

It is not clear if M23 rebels will also attend the talks in Kampala, with delegation head Rene Abandi in the city but saying he had yet to receive an invitation.

"We are still waiting, there were some discussions but I cannot give a definite answer at the moment," Abandi said.

Talks between the M23 and Kinshasa began last year but broke down in May, and despite promises they would resume, have made little headway.

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