* Congo, Rwanda agreed creation of neutral force in July
* Force has not got off the ground so far
* Disagreement over its composition is a stumbling block
KAMPALA, Nov 21 Foreign ministers from nine
African countries on Wednesday urged other nations on the
continent to contribute troops to an international force to
fight rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo's turbulent
east, a Ugandan government spokesman said.
The plea - which comes at a time when the M23 rebels appear
to have the Congolese army on the backfoot - was signed by
Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Congo
Republic and Zambia.
"The meeting called on the African Union's Peace and
Security Council to mandate the neutral international force and
seek the support of the United Nations Security Council to
deploy the neutral force," said spokesman Fred Opolot.
The Congolese and Rwandan presidents, Joseph Kabila and Paul
Kagame, met on Wednesday in Kampala to try to bring an end to
the conflict in eastern Congo. The M23 rebels took control of
the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday, saying they planned to
"liberate" the vast central African country.
Separately, foreign ministers held a parallel meeting in
Kampala as part of a regional effort to end the crisis. That
meeting was held under the auspices of the 11-state
International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR),
that includes Congo and Rwanda and is chaired by Uganda.
Congo, Rwanda and their Great Lakes region neighbours agreed
in July on a plan to tackle the rebellion in Congo's North Kivu
province, which has raised tensions in the region and displaced
thousand of civilians.
The regional states agreed to a 4,000-strong force to try to
neutralise the M23 rebels, but this has so far failed to get off
the ground, largely because there is disagreement over the
composition of the force.
So far, only Tanzania has offered to contribute troops, but
it was not immediately clear how many.
"The meeting of the foreign affairs ministers urged member
states of the ICGLR and other African countries to contribute
troops as soon as possible, and welcomed the offer by Tanzania
to contribute troops to the neutral international force," a
statement handed to reporters after the ministers meeting said.
The foreign ministers also condemned the M23 rebels.
"(The ministers) condemned the M23 rebel movement for
violation of the cessation of hostilities by capturing the city
of Goma disregarding (the) ceasefire brokered by the chairperson
of the ICGLR," the statement said.
The ICGLR regional grouping also includes Angola and the
Central African Republic, but they were not represented at the
meeting and did not sign the document.