DRC's Tshisekedi invites region's presidents to peace, security summit

Monday September 07 2020
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Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi attends the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on February 10, 2019. PHOTO | AFP


Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has invited neighbours to a regional meeting in the eastern part of the country to discuss peace and security.

President Tshisekedi’s office said he has invited Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye and Angola’s Joao Lurenço to a summit in Goma, North Kivu Province, some 1500 km east of the capital Kinshasa.

Jolino Makelele, the Minister of Communication and spokesperson for the Congolese government, said the meeting will focus on peace and security but also discuss relations among those countries.

“This high-impact mini-summit will look at three themes - peace and security in the region, diplomatic and political relations among the states and the revival of economic activities in the current context of the fight against covid-19,” he said at the weekend.

A meeting date has not been set but officials have rushed to finalise logistics as they await the leaders’ confirmation of attendance. The meeting is, however, expected to take place this week.

Historic meeting


The themes, the government spokesman said, arose from a meeting of the Council of Ministers last Friday.

It resolved to instruct the ministers of Interior (Gilbert Nkankonde), Foreign Affairs (Marie Tumba), International Cooperation (Guillaume Manjolo), Defence (Aimé Ngoy Mukena) and Foreign Trade (Jean-Lucien Bussa) to list key elements to be discussed and DRC’s position on them.

If all the leaders attend the meeting, it will be their first one together in five years.

President Kagame had frosty relations with DRC’s administration under Joseph Kabila and they often accused each other of fueling rebellion back home.

Last May, however, Mr Kagame toured Kinshasa to attend the burial of one-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the father of the current president.

DRC has since applied to join the East African Community, reportedly on Rwanda’s encouragement.

Rwanda also had frosty relations with Burundi under President Pierre Nkurunziza, who died earlier in the year.

Under the new leader, the two recently agreed on  voluntary repatriation of refugees, signaling resumption of open communication channels.