Great Lakes Countries Hope to ‘Eradicate’ Rebels in DRC

Posted July 12th, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Central African countries say they will work to “eradicate” rebel groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, including M23, which seized several towns in the region last week.

The 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region issued a statement after a special meeting in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

Ministers condemned actions by M23 and the FDLR, a Congo-based Rwandan Hutu rebel group.

They pledged to work with the African Union and United Nations to create an international force to defeat both groups and other “negative forces” in the eastern DRC.

Separately, Rwanda said it has agreed to increase third-party surveillance on its border with Congo. The DRC's government has accused Rwanda of providing material support to M23, a charge Rwanda denies.

Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement Thursday that “there is a clear need to rebuild trust amid the swirling allegations over the past several weeks.”

Congo has tried for years, with little success, to subdue rebel groups in its volatile and mineral-rich eastern provinces.

M23 is comprised of former soldiers believed to be loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes. The soldiers had been integrated into Congo's army, but left earlier this year after complaining of their treatment, amid threats by Congolese President Joseph Kabila to arrest Ntaganda.