The fifth ordinary International Conference on the
Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) summit has opened heads of states and their representatives of all member states seeking solutions to the security problems in Central African Republic, Eastern
Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The ICGLR heads of state and government summit, which was preceded by a series of inter-ministerial committee meetings that have been sitting from the 10th to the 14th of January, convened today in the Angolan Capital, Luanda.
Vice President Guy Scott is representing Zambia at the high level meeting.
Dr. Scott, who arrived in Angola yesterday in the company of Foreign Affairs Minister Wylbur Simuusa, today attended the official opening of the summit for the Presidents on behalf of the President Michael Sata.
The Vice President lead a delegation of two ministers and a team of officers from the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs who have been in Angola for the inter-ministerial meetings and the summit.
And Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has officially handed over the chairmanship of the Great Lakes Region and called on leaders of countries in the region to make accountable and punish people who have committed crimes against humanity in their countries.
In his speech as outgoing chairperson of the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Museveni stated that people who have committed rape, looted the poor people’s businesses and killed innocent citizens need to be killed by shooting in the public and not taken anywhere to be tried.
President Museveni also called on the government leaders to discipline their soldiers so that they do not kill or rape innocent people, stating that those that have done so in the past should be made to account.
He said the conflicts in the Central African Republic, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan need to be resolved immediately and offenders punished.
He told the summit that in his country, soldiers or any other people who commit rape or kill others, are instantly killed by shooting in public, a situation he said was working well to avoid killing of innocent citizens.
The Ugandan President reiterated that the region should not allow rebels to overthrow a legally elected government like it happened in the Central African Republic.
He further appealed to the member states in the region to act swiftly and end violence saying his country was tired of solutions that do not work.
President Museveni, who repeatedly apologized to the host President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for using what he called unpalatable language, stated that Uganda was not siding with rebels as alleged by some countries.
He stated that fighting in Eastern Congo has affected the agriculture industry in his country.
He also observed that business in the region was doing fine but noted that it could do much better if infrastructure such as roads and electricity were improved and if fighting was resolved.
And in his acceptance speech, Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santo commented Uganda for holding the region together and for partly resolving conflicts in the Democratic Republic
of Congo where the M23 rebels agreed to lay down their arms and dialogued.
President Dos Santos affirmed his commitment as new chairman of the Great Lakes Region to implementing all the recommendation of the summit and ensuring that peace was restored in countries that have conflicts.
He noted that Angola has taken up the chairmanship of Great Lakes Region at a time when there were conflicts in DRC, South Sudan and Central African Republic but assured the summit that he would strive to make the parties involved in conflicts to dialogue.
He however called for support from all member countries of the great lakes region to ensure that Angola succeeds as chairperson of the sub-region.
President Dos Santos spelled out his vision for the region in economic and social planning and said he would ensure that trade and exchange were enhanced in the region.
On defence and security, he said he would fight human trafficking and illegal immigration among other things.
And both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) Special Envoys to the Great Lakes Region congratulated Angola for assuming the chairmanship of the sub-regional body and Uganda for chairing the body in the last two years.
United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson expressed confidence that Angola would coordinate the region and help resolve conflicts and disputes in the affected countries.
She pledged the UN’s support to the region in the resolution of disputes and called on leaders of the member states to show political will and raise above all problems facing the region.
Among the Presidents who attended the official opening of the summit Jacob Zuma of South African, Uganda’s Yoweli Museveni, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Joseph Kabila of DRC, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the host President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Vice President of Zambia Guy Scott and many other vice presidents represented their respective countries on behalf of their presidents.
After the official opening ceremony, the heads of state and governments held a closed door meeting where they were expected to look at the recommendations from the inter-ministerial committee meeting and discuss the budget for the Great Lakes Region.
The fifth ordinary summit of heads of state and governments of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region is expected to close this afternoon immediately after the conclusion of business.
Dr. Scott is expected to fly back to Lusaka immediately after the official closure.