Leaders Tell M23 To Withdraw From Goma

Sultani Makenga (C) and his group have been asked to withdraw from Goma

Regional leaders meeting in Kampala on Saturday called on the M23 rebels in DRC to with draw from Goma city they captured on Tuesday.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame did not attend the meeting by regional leaders who converged in Kampala to discuss the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ambassador James Mugume, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this development saying Kagame would be represented by Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo at the summit on Saturday.

However, the PS did not divulge details as to why the Rwandan President was not attending.

On Tuesday, M23 rebels captured DRC’s eastern city of Goma that has a heavy UN peacekeeping force and have vowed to expand their territorial control and even seize the capital, Kinshasa, although the city is 1,574km away.

Kagame’s absence at the summit will be a disappointment to the efforts geared at finding a solution to the crisis in the unstable Central African country.

Rwanda and Uganda have been accused by a UN experts’ report of supporting the rebels, a charge the two nations have denied.

The leaders who attended the summit include the host Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and DR Congo’s Joseph Kabila.

The four presidents issued a statement calling on M23 to “stop all war activities and withdraw from Goma, which they captured on Tuesday and “stop talk of overthrowing an elected government”.

The leaders at the summit also proposed a joint neutral force in addition instructing Joseph Kabila to look into the grievances of the rebels.

The rebels said they were not given army posts promised in a 2009 deal to end a previous uprising and have rejected previous calls to leave Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and the main city in eastern DR Congo

The summit comes as the United Nations has expressed shock at the sight of thousands of civilians fleeing a rebel advance in the eastern DR Congo and appealed for access to help those caught up in the violence.

Thousands of civilians are fleeing the town of Sake, which was taken over by the M23 rebels battling government troops.


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