By Cecilia Okoth and Aida Anyango
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have recommended that Governments in the Great Lakes regions should not interfere in the internal affairs of neighboring countries to curb the recurrence of violence in the region.
This was one of the recommendations reached by CSOs during a one day workshop held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
Other recommendations include not tolerating or providing assistance or support of any kind to armed groups, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighboring countries and strengthening regional cooperation, including deepening economic integration with special consideration for the exploration of natural resources.
The recommendation on none interference, they said, will help break the vicious cycle of conflicts that have riddled many countries on the continent, particularly the Great lakes region.
The endorsements are part of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region.
CSOs also want Governments in the region to respect the legitimate concerns and interests of the neighbouring countries in particular regarding security matters and to neither harbour nor provide protection of any kind to persons accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of genocide or persons falling under the United Nations sanctuary regime.
“This frame work offers a comprehensive pact to resolving the root causes of the conflict in Great Lakes region and a cross regional approach aimed at fostering trust among the countries of the region,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa Onochie, the UN resident coordinator.
The UN office in Uganda plays an active role in contributing, wherever possible to the full implementation of the peace, security and cooperation frame work.
Onochie said the implementation fits in well with the UN mission which is to work very closely with the civil society. “It is no longer just an option for us to interact with civil society but it became imperative for us.”
However the Ambassador of the Netherlands Alphons Hennekens, who officiated the workshop, urged CSOs to assist government in assessing whether the benchmarks of the Framework are being fulfilled.
“Provide input to the Special Envoy about how the Frame work should be further implemented,” Hennekens told them.