Kagame-Kikwete handshake begs FDLR question

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Over its past six extraordinary summits on the security situation in eastern DR Congo, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region has gained notoriety for delivering little on its supposed objective.

The 7th summit last week, coming just a month after the 6th, drew yawns. What would it do differently from those that preceded it?

Not much, it seems. Its final communique, like those before it, went about strongly condemning this, directing and ordering that, expressing and requesting the other without showing how it would actually force through its drafters’ wishes.

The summit’s saving grace was the sidelines meeting between Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

For three months now, leaders from the two countries have exchanged hot words and put both their citizens and those in neighbouring countries on edge.

An hour-long discussion, good as it is, is but a beginning. No side has elaborated any points of action, which is unfortunate. Mistrust that fuels the sort of bad blood that has been witnessed between the two countries thrives on secrecy.

As such, both countries must reveal what they agreed to do to repair their relations.

But more importantly, perhaps, there should be an honest conversation not just between Dodoma and Kigali but the region as well about the source of the falling out — the Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

Honest and tough questions must be asked, and answered, about its history, ideology, sources of support and affiliations, past, present and future plans.

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