SADC and Great Lakes Region leaders have called on the leaders of South Sudan, DRC and Burundi to return to negotiations as part of the region’s resolve to address conflicts and maintain peace and security in the region.
During their 9th Heads of State meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) that opened Thursday in the Congo capital Brazzaville, the leaders also asked fighting groups in active combat to cease hostilities or face a full military action.
Uganda Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who led the country’s delegation to the ICGLR meeting said Uganda will continue supporting all efforts to the peace and stability in the region but also said that there was need for Kinshasa to honour the Nairobi declaration.
The declaration among others asked Kabila’s administration to repatriate, resettle and re-integrate M23 fighters who were given temporary transition status in Uganda as part of the peaceful package to pacify the Eastern DRC region.
On Burundi, Vice President Ssekandi called for an all-inclusive Government as a temporary measure to ease on the tensions in the country while on Sudan Ssekandi said that Uganda supports a political settlement between the warring factions.
He also said that Uganda is ready to support capacity building efforts for CAR security agencies to help the country become self-reliant in confronting some of the security challenges it currently faces.
Earlier, while opening the conference, Congo Brazzaville President, Denis Sassou N’guesso called on leaders in the region to prioritise regional mechanisms in addressing issues but warned of complacency and lack of commitment which he said have been responsible for some of the raging conflicts in the region.
In his speech, the African Union Vice Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat called upon President Kabila to come up with a roadmap to the country’s next elections to ease the tension in the DRC and also asked him to ensure a sustained peaceful environment in the country to undertake democratic.
He said that DRC bordering nine others and with a quarter of the region’s population is a critical country adding that any instability in DRC generates ripple effects to the whole region. He also urged regional leaders to come-up with concrete plans to end the insurgency in DRC.
After the official opening, leaders went for four-hour closed door session to further deliberate on sensitive issues that among others concerned the political roadmap and security situation in the DRC, the human rights issues in Burundi, the security situation in the CAR and the warring factions in South Sudan.
The meeting is based on the 2013 framework agreement established to support the ongoing regional efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Great Lakes Region was to review earlier commitments and consider additional measures aimed accelerating pacification of the region.
It brought together Heads of State and Government officials from Angola, Burundi, CAR, Congo Republic, DRC, South Sudan, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. Others are from the AU, the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the South African Development Community (SADC) and the UN.
Kenya was absent at the summit due to the ongoing political uncertainty at home following the high court nullification of results which had indicated President Uhuru Kenyatta won in the August presidential elections.