President Museveni, UN chief of peacekeeping operations discuss, DR Congo, Great Lakes security

Friday 14th September 2012
Department of Press and Public Relations. News. Information. Communication

President Yoweri Museveni has said to resolve issues in the Great Lakes, the region must handle the residual problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo including managing its own people instead of referring everything to the International Criminal Court.

Museveni said the M23 rebels and other groups destabilizing the region were partly as a result of a decision to refer people to the ICC.

“Uganda has many problems from Amin, Obote etc but we never referred anyone to the ICC. We must manage our people ourselves because this can be a constituency for trouble. People sent to the ICC have followers. Congo and Rwanda were working very well before this but when that started there was a new outburst. The South African government handled this through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. If you use external groups to deal with your problem and neglect your own problems, it’s a big mistake,” he said adding that, “using foreign institutions to deal with internal contradictions instead of negotiating with your opponents is a mistake. You can’t rely on the ICC to get rid of your rival”.

The President said except for Kony who had been flushed out of Uganda and was in foreign territory and had thus been referred to the ICC, Uganda integrated all its former enemies as part of its peace building processes.

The President was yesterday meeting the UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura district. Mr. Ladsous who led a team of 15 people including the Special Representative for the Secretary General and Chief of The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) Roger Meece and the Special Advisor of security based in New York Gen. Babacar Gaye. The meeting was attended by the Minister for Defence Crispus Kiyonga, that of Foreign Affairs Asuman Kiyiingi and Uganda’s representative to the UN Adoniya Ayebare.

The President said the DR Congo problem became a Great Lakes problem because under Mobutu, there was a deliberate threat to its neighbours by design, denying his own people citizen rights because they are linked to the people of the Great Lakes, internal lack of democracy and lack of state structures like the army and civil police.

“We can’t talk of the problem without a clear definition, fortunately Kabila does not threaten his neighbours by design but by default, he does not deny his people their rights and there are attempts at democracy. I think the Congo government and the rebels can reach an agreement. The country must also build a national army around a core of educated, capable, disciplined and loyal people,” he said.

The President called for support and funding for the neutral force which he said must use dialogue and enforcement to maintain peace at the border.

“We need a new hybrid of troops who are ideologically committed and loyal. If we don’t do this, we don’t add any value in helping Congo build its army,” he said.

Tanzania has already committed troops for the neutral force but issues of funding are still a challenge.

 The President expressed his unhappiness at the continued stay of terrorists in Congo who frequently cross into Uganda and kill innocent people, urging stakeholders to urgently address the issue.

“We can work with Congo and fight them. They have already crossed into Uganda and killed four shieks. Am not happy with this type of situation, the UN is there, Kabila is there, the terrorists are there – to have these terrorists near our borders is not right. Let’s clear the borders so that our people can do trade. These terrorists are interfering with our trade,” he said.

Rebel leader Jamil Mukulu of the ADF is believed to be in DR Congo and is said to be responsible for the deaths of various Muslim leaders in the country.

Hervé Ladsous hailed President Museveni efforts to find peace in the region through the Great Lakes Conferences and urged the region to come together to find a solution. He said the UN Security Council needs to be presented with a clear and concise operation of the proposed neutral force, adding that they must find a way to stop the violence.

He said there has been something close to a ceasefire and a lull in the violence which leaders must try and consolidate.

“There must be a commitment of all to stabilise borders. There should be no threat from Congo to other countries and from other countries to Congo. The neutral force should be about building confidence between countries. The solution in Congo will not be solely military but must be political as well,” he said.

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