UGANDA (eTN) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to arrive in Uganda this coming Tuesday for discussions with President Museveni on the renewed crisis in Eastern Congo, where intense fighting has once again displaced tens of thousands of innocent people as sections of the former Rwandan killer militias and other rebels are engaged with Kinshasa regime and UN troops in a fight for control of the rich mining areas.
There has been little sympathy for the US in the region following the cut of military aid to Rwanda over allegations that the government in Kigali was clandestinely supporting a militia thought “friendly” to them – claims continuously denied by Rwandan officials – and calls have started to re-emerge to allow the Rwandan army officially back into Eastern Congo to sort out the mess, which the Kinshasa regime is clearly unable to control or unwilling to resolve.
Refugees have been streaming across the borders into Rwanda and Uganda to escape from the intense fighting, and both countries are on high alert over fears that anti-government rebels may disguise themselves among genuine refugees to cross into the neighboring countries with an altogether more sinister agenda.
Clinton’s visit follows not long after her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, also visited the region in an effort to promote child health care, though it is thought that he also engaged in discussing other subjects, having been to Uganda during his two terms of office and being well acquainted with the political situation in the wider Great Lakes region.
The conflict in Eastern Congo is generally considered to be a serious threat to political stability and economic development in the Great Lakes region and is affecting neighboring countries, too, as trade and travel has slowed down significantly in recent weeks. In particular, tourism to the Congolese Virunga National Park has come to a complete halt following fighting in and around the park in recent months and weeks, during which rebels even killed park rangers, and there is at present no clear picture of how park staff and the prized mountain gorillas on the Congolese side of the border are faring under these trying circumstances.