U.S. Diplomat Hails Great Lakes Tripartite Joint Commission

Personal diplomacy is quietly but persistently building confidence in the Great Lakes Region, the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Michael Arietti has said.

In an interview with the Washington File, Arietti said that because of its personal aspect, the Great Lakes Tripartite Peace Process has turned out to be one of the most effective conflict resolution mechanisms in Africa. He said it has proved to be a success because of its hands-on approach and its focus on getting results.

The Tripartite Joint Commission was established to oversee implementation of a regional security agreement among the parties who had become involved in eastern Congo. The process began in April 2004 when the United States convinced senior officials from Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to start talks aimed at stopping cross-border violations of their territories. Burundi later joined the talks.

Arietti said of all the goals of the Tripartite, one of the most important was to increase the level of trust amongst participating countries. He said a major achievement of the process is that government officials meet on a regular basis to help relieve political tensions.

The next meeting of the Tripartite Joint Commission takes place in Kigali on May 26th and 27th.

The American diplomat disclosed that one issue which will be raised at the Kigali meeting involves enhancing the capabilities of the Tripartite Fusion Cell.

The Tripartite Fusion Cell, located in eastern Congo, is basically a clearinghouse for information about cross-border violations and the reported movements of marauding militias. It is intended to clear up the rumors of movements and violations and sort fact from fiction. Inaccurate information had become a source of much mistrust and tension among the parties in the Great Lakes region.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Don Yamamoto will attend the Kigali meeting.