AU mulls deployment of neutral force in DRC

2012-11-27 09:18

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Addis Ababa - The African Union said on Monday it will consider the deployment of an international force in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after regional leaders met at the weekend to urge rebels to end their military offensive and withdraw from Goma.

The AU "expressed its intention to consider... the deployment of the international neutral force", AU peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said after an emergency session of the Security Council convened to discuss the unrest in the DRC.

Lamamra said Tanzania had expressed its "readiness" to commit a battalion of 800 soldiers to the region.

"What has been announced is the readiness of Tanzania to deploy a battalion as soon as the logistics is made available to them and there will also be a force commander," he said.

The security commissioner for the pan African bloc was speaking as an M23 rebel leader met with regional army chiefs in the Ugandan capital for talks.

Regional leaders called on the DRC rebel group M23 on Saturday to end hostilities and relinquish the key eastern town of Goma, which it seized in an advance that has sparked fears of a wider conflict.

M23 rebels said a withdrawal from Goma should not be a precondition for talks, while DRC said negotiations would not commence before rebels retreated 20km from Goma.

M23's advance has displaced tens of thousands of civilians, sparked warnings of humanitarian disaster, and raised fears that a wider conflict could again erupt in the area, the cradle of back-to-back wars that shook the former Belgian colony from 1996 to 2002.

The AU also urged "unhindered" humanitarian access to the region in response to the recent unrest and mass displacement.

- SAPA

Read more on:    au  |  m23  |  drc  |  central africa
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