African Leaders Meeting on DRC Rebel Crisis

Posted November 24th, 2012 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Central African heads of state are trying to resolve the rebel crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but without the help of Rwandan president Paul Kagame.

His absence at Saturday's summit in Uganda's capital, Kampala, is getting a lot of attention because Rwanda has been accused of supporting the rebels, a charge it denies.

President Kagame has sent his foreign minister to the meeting. The summit comes amid concerns of advances by rebels into eastern Congo and a shake-up in the Congolese army.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila suspended the head of the army after the general was accused of selling weapons to armed groups in the east. The suspension of Major General Gabriel Amisi came three days after rebel group M23 defeated Congolese forces and captured the eastern city of Goma.

A U.N. report released late Wednesday said Amisi runs an arms smuggling network that supplies eastern Congolese rebel and militia groups.

M23 and the Congolese army continue to fight over the town of Sake, west of Goma. The rebels took the town Friday for the second time this week after the army regained control Thursday.

VOA's correspondent in eastern Congo reports seeing the bodies of seven Congolese soldiers on a road in Sake. He says most residents of Sake have fled the town, and that fighting may next move to the town of Minova, farther to the west.

The rebels have rejected a call from Mr. Kabila and the presidents of Rwanda and Uganda to withdraw from Goma and stop their offensive.

The DRC has accused both Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23 – something both countries strongly deny.

M23 takes its name from a March 23, 2009 peace deal that was meant to bring former rebels into the Congolese army. The rebels left the army early this year after complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

The DRC government has tried for years with little success to pacify the east, where armed groups compete for control of the region's mineral wealth.