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DRC neutral force: Zimbabwe army unwanted

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By staff writer

newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government on has defended possible intervention by Zimbabwean troops to join a new African Neutral force” to help thwart a rebellion amid an outcry by human rights groups in that country who fear a repeat of the 1998 war.

 

President Joseph Kabila of DRC is encountering rebel forces who call themselves M23 who are reportedly backed by Rwanda. The claim which Rwanda government furiously denies brands as “false and unfounded.”

Kabila’s government has called for a neutral force that would enforce a ceasefire in the areas bordering Rwanda and Uganda.

But a leading human rights group said in a statement saying Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia – countries that led a controversial SADC intervention in the 1997 DRC civil war – therefore, must not be allowed to return, claiming they plundered that country’s resources.

The African Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Asadho), a non-governmental organisation based in the DRC capital Kinshasa, is leading the protests.

The protest follows a meeting by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region Countries (ICGLR) on August 17 in Goma, a city in the eastern DRC, where defence ministers resolved Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia could be part of the international neutral force.

ICGLR proposed that only Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya must be allowed to contribute soldiers because of their neutrality.

“We must learn the lessons of the past so that we do not commit the same errors that cost us dearly some years back,” Asadho said in a statement sent to Great Lakes Voice.

Zimbabwe forces entered into the costly DRC war in 1998 to help the late Laurent Kabila’s government fight against a Tutsi-backed uprising.

Zimbabwe’s another intervention might prove unpopular at home and in the DRC if Asadho’s reaction is anything to go by.

However, DRC government spokesperson Lambert Mende told journalists that it was not up to the groups to determine the composition of the international force.
“It’s not Asadho, but the government and parliament that are allowed to make decisions regarding the war,” government publicity Mende said.

“Asadho does not have power to decide which countries should come to assist DR Congo which has been attacked.”

Zimbabwe government is yet to make its own decision.

 

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