President Museveni, and his regional counterparts, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi and Joao Lourenco of Angola have agreed to join hands in the fight against armed forces in the great lakes region, Chimp Corps report.
This was resolved during a virtual mini heads-of-state Summit held today Wednesday.
“The Heads of State of the four countries reviewed the security situation in the Great Lakes sub-region, and recalled the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement of February 2013 which affirms the security concerns of the countries of the sub- region -Great Lakes region,” the joint statement issued at the end of the summit reads in part.
“In this regard, they reaffirmed their willingness to combine their efforts to eradicate the negative forces and armed groups operating in the Great Lakes sub-region,” it added.
The meeting comes high on the heels of increased subversive activities in eastern Congo.
Armed elements in DRC continue to threaten the stability of Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and Burundi.
The presence of these rebels has since strained relations of the regional leaders.
For example, Rwanda and Burundi accuse each other of supporting rival rebel movements which both countries deny. It’s the same story between Uganda and Rwanda.
The leaders said in their joint communique that the Mini-Summit offered them an “opportunity to discuss subjects of common interest with a view to strengthening good neighborly relations between the countries concerned, and to fostering the strengthening of cooperation for pacification and stabilization of the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes sub-region.”
It remains unclear if a joint force will be mobilized to get rid of rebels in the North and South Kivu.
Burundi supports the idea of eliminating this security threat.
The leaders condemned the activism of negative forces in the Great Lakes sub-region, and reaffirmed their willingness to advocate for the “strengthening of the capacities of existing mechanisms in the Great Lakes sub-region in order to cut off negative forces from sources of financing of their activities and to jointly fight against both regional and international mafia networks which contribute the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources in the Great Lakes sub-region.”
The Heads of State also deplored the harmful effects of the coronavirus disease, particularly the loss of human lives recorded in the Great Lakes sub-region and in the world as well as its negative impact on economies.
They offered resolved to be extra vigilant in the face of persistent threats of this epidemic in their respective countries.
The outbreak has led to disruption in the various sectors in East Africa, most notably the financial industry and the tourism and hospitality sectors.
In Kenya, projected GDP growth in 2020 now stands at 1% from 5.7% due to the gravity of the pandemic; with the economy seeing a decline in tourism activity, export revenues, and a disruption in the supply chain.
Similarly, the outlooks in Tanzania and Uganda show a similar trend with GDP growth being revised to 2% and 3.5% respectively (decline in 3.3% and 1.8% percentage points).
The leaders also agreed to set up a cross-border plan to strengthen surveillance and control measures in response to Covid-19 and other pathologies with epidemic potential between the four countries, while respecting national, regional and international laws.
The Heads of State vowed to consolidate cooperation between States and to pursue the exploration of economic opportunities, including facilitation of cross-border trade and infrastructure to strengthen the regional integration necessary for the consolidation of peace and safety in the Great Lakes sub-region.
The Ugandan Cabinet recently approved an ambitious plan to construct roads linking the country with the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The 223km road network running from the Ugandan border deep into DRC territory is aimed at boosting bilateral trade and also addressing the country’s strategic security.