East African nations plan response to militia in DR Congo

The officials agreed on “coordinated and concerted regional action to address the threat posed by negative forces
East African nations plan response to militia in DR Congo
An M23 Rebel fighter looks on as he mans a position in Bunagana on June 7, 2012. The M23 rebels launched a mutiny against the government early this year after breaking away from the army. Bunagana fell into rebel hands after a clash, according to an M23 spokesman and local civilians. AFP PHOTO / Michele Sibiloni (Photo by MICHELE SIBILONI / AFP)

Intelligence chiefs from three East African nations have announced plans for regional action against armed groups destabilising the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The officials from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, as well as DR Congo, agreed on “coordinated and concerted regional action to address the threat posed by negative forces,” according to a statement released Thursday after two days of talks in Kinshasa.

Dozens of militias roam the North and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The most notorious is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a shadowy Islamist-rooted group that rose in western Uganda in 1995 under the leadership of Jamil Mukulu, a Christian turned Muslim.

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The new initiative entails “continuous exchange of information, in-depth and consensual analysis and joint planning between the intelligence and security services,” the statement said.

The three nations set up a “technical working group” with intelligence officers in DR Congo, to give their assessment of the armed groups and of the strategies being used to combat them.

The ADF has been blamed for the massacre of hundreds of civilians and the killing of 22 UN peacekeepers and dozens of DRC troops.

Another group is a DRC-based Rwandan rebel militia called the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). Its leaders have been linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and accused of killing or raping hundreds of Congolese civilians.

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Armed groups are also accused of hampering the effort to roll back Ebola in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province, launching attacks on treatment centres that have killed five health workers, according to reports.

The national intelligence chiefs have also invited the international community to support the plan.

All previous initiatives to eradicate the armed groups in DR Congo – by the Congolese army, UN peacekeepers and joint efforts by neighbouring armies – have failed.

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