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African Military Leaders Discuss Great Lakes Security

VOA News - August 28, 2007

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Military Leaders of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda met in Kigali to discuss taking action against negative elements operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Thomas Rippe reports for VOA from the Rwandan capital.

Democratic Republic of Congo
Military leaders from the Great Lakes region of central Africa met in Kigali, Rwanda to make strategic plans for military action against different militias destabilizing the region.  Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have been urging Congo to take action against militants operating in the eastern part of the vast country.

Major Ronald Miller is the American Army attaché in Rwanda. 

"Basically because Congo cannot control its borders all the rebel groups seem to run and hide there, because there is a lack of rule of law and control in the area," he said.

Major Miller says the United States has been promoting these meetings in order to promote cooperation and security in the region.

The military leaders discussed four possible scenarios of action.  Under scenario one, Congo will begin direct military action against rebel groups operating within its territory.  That action is scheduled to start by the end of September.

Rwanda Defense Forces spokesman Jill Rutaremara says he is pleased with the steps Kinshasa is taking to address the problems.

"Since the DRC has commitment to continue in that scenario, and has shown us other ways of making the operations more effective, we have decided to leave other scenarios for this time," she said.  "But they remain open in case scenario one, of course, fails."

Rutaremara says scenario two could involve bi-lateral military action between the DRC and any one of the three other countries.  Scenario three would involve combined military action by all four countries, and scenario four would involve diplomatic measures such as asking for greater assistance from the African Union or the United Nations.

Lieutenant-General Dieudonné Kayombe of Congo says it will take time due to the nature of the operation.

"Those negative forces are not structured, they are not organized," he explained.  "You, from time to time can meet teams of three or four people.  So it is a guerilla type of warfare.  So it will take time."

Major Rutaremara says representatives from the four countries will have a planning session on September 20, and the military leaders will meet a few days later to review operations and exchange information.

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