Burundi + 3 more

Great Lakes: Tripartite Plus determined to eradicate negative forces

Ministers from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda met at the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission in Kampala, Uganda, September 15-17, 2007. The United States Government was present as the facilitator of the Tripartite Plus process.

The ministers reaffirmed the core mission of the Tripartite Plus to end the threat to regional peace and security from Negative Forces, and agreed to redouble efforts to achieve that objective.

The ministers also agreed on the importance of accelerating integration of Congolese armed forces (brassage) in order that they may act against negative forces and assure the security of the local population.

Member delegations appealed to the United Nations Mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) to intensify efforts to work with Congolese armed forces (FARDC) to eliminate the negative forces through full application of its mandate.

All delegations expressed concern about deteriorating security conditions in Eastern Congo, in particular the destabilizing roles of former General Laurent Nkunda and the ex-FAR/Interahamwe.

All delegations committed to support the DRC in its efforts to end the violence and reduce the regional security threat of these and other Negative Forces in Eastern Congo.

The Ministers welcomed the increasing number of high-level bilateral exchanges among Tripartite Plus member countries.

These include the September 7-8 summit between DRC President Joseph Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the September 3-4 visit by Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Dr. Charles Murigande to Kinshasa to meet with his counterpart, the DRC Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, and meetings at many regional fora, including the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the East African Community (EAC), and the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL).

Among commitments reached at this meeting:

1. The Ministers endorsed the results of the August 27-28 meeting of the Chiefs of Defense Staff, and in particular the plan for a meeting of the Operations and Intelligence Chiefs in Kisangani on September 20 to establish a Joint Planning Cell and prepare for a follow-up meeting by Chiefs of Defense Staff.

2. The Government of Congo committed to convene a political-level meeting of the Congo-Rwanda Joint Verification Commission on September 21, 2007 in Goma, with a view to easing tensions in the Kivus.

3. The Ministers agreed that legal advisors of the Tripartite Member Countries will meet in Bukavu Oct. 29-31 to complete their review of legal measures that may be taken against persons who threaten peace and security in the region.

4. The Governments of Congo and Rwanda, on the one hand, and Congo and Uganda on the other, committed to negotiate tripartite arrangements with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) within two months, in order to prepare for the return of remaining refugees.

5. Ministers agreed to communicate to the United Nations Secretary General their observations and recommendations with respect to MONUC's role in addressing the threat of Negative Forces.

6. Ministers agreed to pursue full normalization of diplomatic relations, including at the Ambassadorial level, by September 30, 2008.

Ministers accepted the Executive Secretariat of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region as observer at the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission.

The next Tripartite Plus Joint Commission meeting is scheduled for February 2008 in Burundi.

Visiting delegations expressed deep appreciation to the Government and people of Uganda for the warm welcome and hospitality extended throughout their stay in Kampala.