Map of the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
African army defense chiefs to meet on DRC force
Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:11AM GMT
Defense chiefs from 11 African states are set to meet to work out the details of a neutral international military force to take on the rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The army chiefs of staff from member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) will meet on Wednesday in Goma in eastern DRC, Congolese executive secretary Alphonse Tumbalwaba said on Monday, AFP reported.
ICGLR defense chiefs will then hold a follow-up meeting.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, signed an accord on July 15 that foresees the creation of a neutral force to combat the rebels in the eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu.
The agreement called 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."
Since early May, as many as 220,000 civilians have fled their homes. Most of them have resettled inside Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
The rebels, known as the March 23 movement, 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 (ICC) on a charge of recruiting child soldiers.