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Regional leaders meet on DRC unrest

08 October 2012, 11:33

Kampala - Regional heads of state gathered on Monday ahead of a summit on the chronic unrest in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the latest attempt to end the violence there.

DRC President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame arrived on Monday for the meeting, amid continued accusations by Kinshasa that Kigali is stoking violence by aiding rebel forces.

Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Okello-Oryem told AFP both presidents would start talks later on Monday.

The summit, hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, will consider recommendations, drawn up at earlier meetings but which have so far made little headway, to set up an "international neutral force" to intervene in the area.

Eastern DRC has been hit hard by a rebellion by army defectors who have formed a group called the M23, whose members are former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel movement integrated into the military under a 2009 peace deal.

Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges, is accused of leading the M23.

A UN report in June accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, causing a surge in tensions with neighbouring DRC. Kigali denies the charge and has been in talks with Kinshasa to set up a neutral force to tackle the unrest.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza and Salva Kiir of South Sudan are also attending, with the Tanzanian leader Jakaya Kikwete expected to arrive later in the day, Okello-Oryem said.

The meeting is the fourth in three months organised by the 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and follows talks held last month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

"This international neutral force is aimed at eradicating all the negative forces operating in eastern DRC," the ICGLR said in a statement.



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