Eleven nations in the Great Lakes region of Africa have ceremonially opened the Centre for Intelligence Sharing, which will share information on security threats and function as a place of permanent consultation between countries in the region.
Intelligence chiefs from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo gathered in Goma last week for the opening ceremony.
Professor Ntumba Luaba, a former government minister from the Democratic Republic of Congo told Voice of America (VOA) that partner nations decided to base the centre in Goma due to its close proximity to a number of armed groups.
“The launch of this initiative comes at a time of tense relations between the DRC and Rwanda, after a mutiny among Congolese army units, which the DRC says was instigated from Rwanda,” Luaba said.
Kalev Mutond, head of DRC intelligence, told guests that such tensions justify the centre’s existence. “While there were differences between the Congo and Rwanda, a solution will certainly be found to those differences, and the centre will help in that process,” he is quoted by VOA as saying.
“I think as we try to find solutions to difficult regional problems, the first step has to be the countries of the region themselves taking steps to coordinate among themselves,” said James Entwistle, the United States ambassador to the DRC. He added that the initiative was extremely encouraging and has the full support of the US.
There are a number of threats in the region – for instance, in the Congo, mutineers calling themselves M23 have been fighting government soldiers. Uganda is concerned about instability from neighbouring South Sudan’s secession from Khartoum and instability along the Congolese border. Uganda has previously accused Sudan and Congo of arming its foes, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Jamil Mukulu’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Uganda itself keeps numerous troops in Central African Republic (CAR) and northeastern Congo to hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army rebels who waged a long-running insurgency against Kampala and are now roaming the jungles there.