Tanzania is ready to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight M23 rebels who are making advances to the capital Kinshasa, a minister has said.
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said Thursday that the country would, however, only send its troops if the UN headquarters in New York immediately mandated the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to deploy troops in DRC.
Presidents from the Great Lakes Region are meeting in Kampala Friday for a crisis summit during which they will discuss the deteriorating situation in eastern DRC where the rebels have captured Goma and Sake, 20km away, and vowed to press on with their offensive to take the South Kivu provincial capital of Bukavu, 300km south of Goma.
Mr Membe said leaders within the region under their chairman, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, had called a crisis summit to discuss the matter and see how they could arrest the situation.
The minister said the UN was currently using Chapter 6 of its resolutions, which basically allowed peacekeeping and not peace enforcement. In peace enforcement, the UN troops would, if need be, use force to execute their mandate.
Presently, there were over 17,000 troops under the UN who were not doing much to protect the Congolese people and instead, they were only “observing things”.
“We condemn what the rebels are doing in eastern Congo….it is unacceptable to Tanzania. But there is an International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Kampala tomorrow (today), which was called expressly to discuss the matter,” Mr Membe said.
He said the situation in eastern Congo had huge impact on all East African states and, if left unchecked, would result in huge numbers of refugees and internally displaced people.