It's wait and see in Goma as Kampala summit endsBy JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa | Thursday, August 9 2012 at 18:13
The prevalent view in the North Kivu capital of Goma is that the Great Lakes summit held this week in Kampala failed to find a solution to the ongoing crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Echoing the view, Goma-based political analyst Jean Mawete told Africa Review: “We did not expect any solution from the Great Lakes summit in as far as the Ugandan and Rwandan heads of state were present and played a leading role during the meeting.”
However, he added that local Congolese were reassured that the crisis was being discussed at a top level. “The M23 rebel troops are not far from Goma but we are less and less afraid due to numerous diplomatic statements calling on Rwanda to stop backing the rebels,” he said.
History has taught the Congolose not to trust the Ugandans and Rwandans. They accuse the neighbours of colluding with the various rebel groups who have devastated eastern DRC since 1996.
In 2000, the armies of Rwanda and Uganda fought in the city of Kisangani over what was believed to be control of local mineral resources.
Nevertheless, some calm has returned to Goma after an initial panic ten days ago when the M23 rebels overrun the town of Kibumba which is less than 30 km to the north and threatened to move on to the provincial capital.
The rebels were stopped by UN troops who fired on them from helicopters. The DR Congo army backed by UN peacekeepers is now being deployed in a ring surrounding the city to counter any rebel infiltration.
Unlike before, the soldiers appear to have been reinforced with fresh troops coming from Kinshasa.
“The internal plan for the security of the city of Goma has been activated starting early August," Major Ibrahim Dien, the UN mission acting spokesma, told reporters in Kinshasa Wednesday.
In the meantime, M23 rebel troops are consolidating control in the area they have taken by replacing the previous administrative personnel with their own in the the towns they have captured such as Rutshuru and Bunangana.
The main road which links to the other major towns of Butembo and Beni, around 350 km to the north, have been cut off. Many trucks carrying goods, mainly food, were stopped in the town of Kirumba, 200 km away from Goma. As a result, people living in the area which is under the M23’s control are experiencing food shortages.
According to aid workers with Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) who are operating around Rutshuru, Kiwanja and Bunangana, cases of cholera have been recorded at various camps for displaced persons.
The first case was discovered last week at Kanyaruchinya, not far from Bunagana. The cases are reported to be on the rise; according to MSF,four people including a child have died of cholera while 58 cases have been treated.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Goma on July 7 to check on the refugee situation in the area. But scheduled visits to Rutshuru and Walikale districts were cancelled owing to poor security in the region.
The key question now is what is likely to happen on the battlefront as diplomats and politicians search for a durable solution.
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