Speech By H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda At the sixth Extra-ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.

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Your Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta,

President of the Republic of Kenya, 

Your Excellences, Heads of State and Government, 

Your Excellences Leaders of Delegations from Member States,

Her Excellency Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, 

Your Excellency Ramtane Lamamra, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Honourable Ministers, Prof. Ntumba  Luaba, Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, 

Your Excellences Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Distinguished invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am pleased to be with you at the opening of this Extra-ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.
 
I thank H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, for hosting this Summit at such short notice. No doubt, this goes to show his Government’s commitment to the resolution of regional peace and security challenges of our time. Your Excellencies, this is the sixth Extra-Ordinary Summit in a period of one year, all of which have been dedicated to resolving the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These conflicts have affected the Congo itself and our region as a whole. In the past and to some extent today, the conflicts in the Congo have been caused by the following factors:
  1. In the days of President Mobutu, there was a policy of deliberately harbouring and supporting rebel movements to destabilize Congo’s neighbours.

This was the case when the Congo supported UNITA, in order to destabilize Angola; Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda Interahamwe (FDLR) to destabilize Rwanda; and ADF supported by Sudan to destabilize Uganda. We believe that there is no such deliberate policy on the part of the Government of Congo to destabilize Uganda.

However, the fact remains that by default, these rebel movements have had freedom to use the territory of the Congo to train and launch attacks on its neighbours. The ADF has for over two decades now operated in North Kivu without any restraint and of late, its activities have increased, both in intensity and frequency. For Example:

•On the 1st July, 2013, the ADF attacked Kangbayi Prison, killing two FARDC soldiers and released all prisoners;
•On the 11th July, the ADF attacked and captured Kamango town for two days. This attack led to the flight of 66,000 Congolese refugees into Uganda. As a result, schools in our Bundibugyo District have been closed so as to house these refugees; and
• On the 14th July, the same rebel group ambushed a MONUSCO convoy at Kabuyasoke on Mbau-Kamango Road Etc. Prior to these fresh attacks, the ADF attacked border areas closer to Uganda in April 2012 and displaced people who crossed into Uganda with 120,000 heads of cattle and brought cattle diseases with them. They invaded our National Parks. Information available indicates that, 30,000 cattle that were being returned with refugee returnees were stolen and eaten by the ADF.
 
2. The other factor that caused conflict in Congo in the past was lack of internal democracy, which encouraged internal conflict. This, however, has been resolved, as the DRC has now held two democratic and competitive elections. It is, however, important to point out that, even with the last two successful elections, there have been groups in the DRC that refuse to accept the election results. Instead of using constitutional means to challenge the election results, they have resorted to the use of force. 
 
3. There has been a tendency to deny certain sections of the population their citizenship rights. This was one of the problems with Mobutu. This has led to unnecessary conflict and needs to be resolved. The present Government has not done that. However, the hang-over from the past needs to be handled.4. The DRC has the duty to protect its citizens and the obligation and responsibility not to destabilize its neighbours. Unfortunately, the DRC has not created an army to effectively control its territory to guarantee internal security and ensure that its territory is not utilized by negative forces to destabilize her neighbours. This is not only a duty to the citizens of Congo but an international obligation to its neighbours.5. There is lack of infrastructure, especially roads and delivery of social services in large parts of the DRC.
 
This has led to uprisings in different remote areas, while negatively affecting the ability to deploy its security force to deal with the various rebel camps and establishing authority over the entire territory of the DRC. This has encouraged indiscipline in the security forces and violation of the rights of the population. Your Excellencies, It is for these reasons that we set up the Pact on Peace, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region and its related Protocols in 2006. This meant that together, we can be
thy neighbour’s keeper.
 
It is important to note that, as a result of the last five extra-ordinary Summits on the situation in Eastern DRC, we have made a number of achievements. I will only highlight a few: First, our Government in Uganda, has been facilitating the Dialogue between the DRC Government and the M23 in Kampala.
 
The Parties have reviewed the 2009 Peace Agreement between the DRC Government and CNDP and agreed on the status of implementation. They have also presented draft peace agreements in March 2013, which were consolidated into one draft. The renewed fighting, therefore, raises concern over the commitment of the Parties to the talks and we call on them to resume and conclude them. This is important because these talks provide the best opportunity for resolving the differences between the DRC Government and the M23. I also believe the successful conclusion of these talks will have a positive contribution to the National Consultations due to start in DRC. Second, in February this year, we agreed and signed, in collaboration with the international community, the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region, which is a useful tool towards addressing the challenges in the DRC and the region. It is useful because it contains commitments and actions to be undertaken at the national, regional and international level as well as emphasizes partnership and collective efforts amongst the UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC. It is also meant to address, in a holistic manner, the root causes of conflict in the Eastern DRC, by dealing with the political, social and economic problems of that region. In May this year, our Regional Oversight Mechanism established a Technical Support Committee to draw up benchmarks for the implementation of the commitments in the cooperation framework.
I have been informed that progress has been made in this regard and I look forward to their conclusion and eventual adoption.
 
Third, at the region’s initiation, the United Nations-funded Force Intervention Brigade was established to deal with negative forces in the DRC. I am glad that it is almost completing its deployment and we expect that when it becomes fully operational, it will decisively deal with these negative forces.
 
In conclusion, I believe this Summit in Nairobi should make a significant contribution towards the search for a durable peace in Eastern DRC. We need to ensure that:
  •  The Kampala Dialogue between the DRC Government and the M23 are quickly concluded;
 
  •  The Force Intervention Brigade is fully deployed as soon as possible to deal with the ADF, FDLR, Front for National Liberation (FNL) and other negative forces operating on the DRC territory against the security of its neighbours not to mention brutalizing the longsuffering people of the Eastern Congo; and
  • Agreeing on the benchmarks with measurable and time-bound indicators to ensure the DRC, the region and the international community fulfill the irrespective commitments under the Peace, Stability and Cooperation Framework.

I thank you.

Nairobi, 31 July, 2013

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