DRC President Joseph Kabila is likely to come under fire following a Saturday televised national address in which he accused Rwanda of “leading a war on Congo.”
The statement, which comes at a time when his government is holding peace talks with M23 rebels in Kampala, confirms fears that Kabila could be playing double standards and exploiting the negotiations for a military buildup in Goma.
“We must be ready to defend our country all the way to the ultimate sacrifice,” said Kabila, adding, Rwanda had taken it upon itself to command M23 operations against his elected government.
Kabila further called for “stepped up recruitment of soldiers” to build a “professional army which would be the country’s fortification.”
“As we work towards uniting our country, efforts aimed at reinforcing our army’s capacity will be accelerated,” said the President.
“Defence must be our top priority. That’s the only solution for the current upheavals,” said Kabila.
It remains unclear why Kabila chose to make the strong-worded statement in the midst of talks initiated by the Great Lakes leaders aimed at putting an end to the humanitarian and security crisis and foster development in Eastern Congo.
M23 President Jean-Marie Runiga recently said his intelligence wing had received information that DRC had deployed thousands of troops and tanks in Goma to avoid the strategic town’s recapture by rebels.
M23 recently pulled out of Goma, Sake and other towns following calls from the Ugandan leader who doubles as the ICGLR chairman, Yoweri Museveni, and the international community.
The rebels said they had respected Museveni’s decision on condition that Kabila held direct talks with them to iron out their “legitimate grievances.”
Speaking at a recent joint press conference with Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame and Museveni in Kampala, Kabila expressed willingness and commitment to hold direct talks with M23 with the view to find “a long lasting, homegrown and peaceful political solution” to the crisis.
The two parties later sent delegations to Kampala where negotiations have been ongoing at Commonwealth resort, Munyonyo.
A final announcement of their resolutions was expected in the next few days.
Rwanda and Uganda have denied accusations of supporting M23 rebels with military equipment and recruits.
KAGAME SPEAKS OUT
Speaking at the 10th National Dialogue in Kigali on Thursday, President Paul Kagame said he was not ready to shoulder DRC’s problems, adding whoever wanted him to sort out the vast ountry’s mess had to pay him.
While the Great Lakes regional leaders, including Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, have in the past condemned MONUSCO’s failure to maintain peace in Congo, Kabila today asked the international to “review” the $1.2bn-a-year UN peacekeeping mission mandate lest its results will remain “mitigated.”
Diplomats have since questioned Kabila’s commitment to the talks, with many telling Chimpreports that he is usually compelled to issue such statements to avoid being overthrown by his own army
Kabila further told Parliament today that he would soon roll out an initiative aimed at building “national cohesion.”
By Brian Kwesiga chimpreports.com