Sept 16, 2007 - New Vision report from Kampala by Alfred Wasike [hat tip Enough
THE UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUC, is ready to back the Congolese army to flush out the LRA and other armed groups from eastern Congo to ensure security in the Great Lakes region.
"We are very concerned about the presence of the LRA and other armed groups in the DRC. Now we have the mandate to use force. We are deploying together with the DRC army to make sure that the LRA or other armed groups don't make the DRC their safe haven," said William Lacy Swing, the head of MONUC.
Swing has been in Kampala for the meeting of the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission, which was attended by ministers of defence and foreign affairs, as well as security chiefs, from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.
The four Great Lakes countries are discussing ways to deal with the armed groups based in eastern Congo which are threatening the security of the region. Uganda's delegation included ministers Sam Kutesa and Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, external security chief Dr. Robert Masolo and his colleague from internal security, Dr. Amos Mukumbi.
Swing, also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Congo, told journalists yesterday at Speke Resort Munyonyo that MONUC planned to increase its presence in the area where the LRA is.
"We have moved about 90% of our forces to the eastern DRC. They (LRA) must go back and finalise the peace talks in Juba. We want to ensure that the peace talks succeed."
He said the other armed groups in the DRC included ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), PRA (People's Redemption Army), FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), FNL (National Forces of Liberation) as well as the forces of Laurent Nkunda.
Swing regretted that, although 15,000 members of armed groups had been demobilised, fresh fighting in the east had led to the displacement of over 600,000 people.
"The Tripartite Plus countries must ensure that they come up with effective strategies to accelerate disarmament of the armed groups. This is the surest way for us to eliminate the negative forces," he pointed out.