Aiming to end ongoing insecurity in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), A Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region was signed today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Reports say eleven African countries signed a UN-drafted peace deal on Sunday to stabilise DRC where rebels allegedly supported by neighbouring countries.
The agreement was signed by African countries particularly DRC, Angola, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia.
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) stood as witnesses and signed the agreement.
What entails the peace accord?
With the new peace accord, Congo’s neighbours promised not to interfere in its internal affairs and also agreed to not tolerate or support rebel armed groups particularly the notorious M23 rebels in Congo.
US lauds DRC peace deal
US Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell says the United States welcomes today’s signing of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Region, a significant step toward promoting long-term peace in the Great Lakes.
The US applaud the leaderships of Presidents Kabila, Kagame, and Museveni in advancing the peace process; the personal engagement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his chef de cabinet, Susana Malcorra; and the constructive role played by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“This agreement is only a beginning. States in the region must now work to elaborate detailed agreements that address the root causes of the cycle of violence.” – Mr. Ventrell
According to Mr. Ventrell, for decades, civilians in the Great Lakes region, particularly in eastern DRC, have been killed, raped, abused, displaced, and otherwise victimized on a horrific scale.
He says Congo deserves the full commitment of regional governments and the international community to ending the violence once and for all.
In addition, the United States urges the DRC to seize the opportunity of renewed international engagement to uphold its commitments to an extension of state authority in the east, to security sector reform, and to improved governance.
Mr. Ventrell underlines that it is equally imperative that the DRC’s neighbors respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by preventing external support to armed groups, which is a violation of international obligations.
The US government also urges the parties to address collectively the egregious use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, impunity for human rights abusers, the illegal exploitation of minerals, the prevention of further population displacements, and land issues.
“We further believe the crisis in eastern DRC is an opportunity for the UN Security Council to completely reassess MONUSCO’s mandate to enhance the Mission’s effectiveness.” – Mr. Ventrell
UN hails the new peace deal
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has said the new peace accord would bring stability to the region.
Ban Ki-Moon says the signing ceremony is significant and is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement.
According to UN, DRC suffers from persistent violence by local and foreign armed groups that use rape as a weapon. and the ongoing insecurity displaced nearly 2 million people.
Recognizing that the security and humanitarian situation in the D.R.C. is the most volatile and violent in Africa, the United States of America has reiterated its commitment to helping the D.R.C. and its neighbors end the cycle of violence and instability.
An estimated five million people have lost their lives since 1998, and millions more have been uprooted and displaced due to cycle of violence in DRC.
North and South Kivu provinces in particular have faced repeated cycles of conflict, atrocities, and displacement, with the current crisis simply being the latest iteration.
The highest levels of the U.S. Government are committed to helping the D.R.C. and the region achieve a sustainable peace.
In the UN Security Council, US has taken action to ensure that five of the most senior and most abusive M23commanders are now under targeted sanctions, and it has placed those same individuals under U.S. sanctions, he added.
Talks between the D.R.C. Government and the M23 began on December 9 in Kampala, and are being mediated by Uganda as the chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, known as the ICGLR.
The US government continues to urge the Ugandan Government to ensure that supplies to the M23 do not originate in or transit through Ugandan territory.
As required by the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, Secretary Clinton suspended Foreign Military Financing, or FMF, to Rwanda in FY 2012 because of its support to the M23.
The Department continues to closely monitor reports of external support, and will continue to respond appropriately, including by reviewing our assistance, to deter this support if it should develops, Mr. Carson highlighted.
Even President Obama spoke with President Kagame and underscored that any support to M23 is inconsistent with Rwanda’s desire for stability and peace in the region.
President Obama emphasized to President Kagame the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the D.R.C., abiding by the recent communications he made in Kampala along with Presidents Kabila and Museveni, and reaching a transparent and credible political agreement that includes an end to impunity for M23 commanders and others who have committed serious human rights abuses.
The US renews call upon everyone involved in the conflict to maintain the current cease-fire, to permit humanitarian access, and to pursue a sustainable political resolution through honest and meaningful dialogue.
US has underlined that to reach a sustainable peace, the D.R.C. Government must accelerate its efforts towards comprehensive security sector reform.
The US will continue to work with the D.R.C. Government to professionalize its military, including continuing our training to army officers and support to the armed forces’ military justice capacities.
The US urges the international community, the Great Lakes region, and the Congolese people to demonstrate the resolve to achieve the peace and prosperity that we know lays ahead for the D.R.C.
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Congo remains deplorable, as it has been for years, with more than two million Congolese currently displaced internally or to neighboring countries.
The United States provided more than $110 million in humanitarian assistance for Congolese refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict-affected civilians in Fiscal Year 2012, including a $5 million supplemental contribution for the increased needs in the D.R.C., Uganda, and Rwanda as a result of displacements caused by the M23 rebellion.
At the UN, the US also has urged donors to respond to the UN’s consolidated appeal for the D.R.C.
The US renews call on the D.R.C., neighboring governments, and the broader international community to ensure accountability for M23 leaders who have committed serious human rights abuses.
The United States is strongly encouraging its partners to ensure these efforts are coordinated with, and perhaps even integrated into, UN peacekeeping efforts.
The US believes that the time has come for the region’s leaders and the international community to break the cycle of violence and impunity in the region as well.
Citing that Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of those countries that deserves greater research and attention, the United States of Americam has underlined that the world should redouble its efforts to end instability in the African country.
US asserts that instability in DRC also deserves a higher place on US foreign policy priority list.
Since its independence on June 30, 1960, the D.R.C. has been mostly a poster child for many of the problems that have afflicted Africa over the past five decades-military coups, rampant corruption, anemic development, health pandemics, runaway inflation, conflict minerals, and poor governance.
US believes it would be a serious mistake for the people of the Congo, for those countries in Central Africa who neighbor and border it, and the global community that the instability in the D.R.C. is not cost free to the United States.
Why the world should redouble its efforts to end instability in the D.R.C?
No other conflict or act of violence since World War II has come close to taking so many lives in DRC.
Rwanda, Somalia, the civil war in the Sudan, and the conflict in Darfur all have commanded the world attention.
In the D.R.C., conflict and resulting disease have killed more than five million people since 1998.
US emphasizes that the international community has a moral imperative to act more effectively in the D.R.C. to break this cycle of death and suffering and to address the other consequences of this violence particularly the unmitigated rape and sexual violence against women and children, the nearly two million internally displaced people, the approximately 450,000 Congolese refugees who have been forced to flee into neighboring countries, and the absence of secure and prosperous lives for virtually the entire country.
D.R.C.’s chronic instability has consequences for U.S. national interests and the interests of the nine other countries that border the D.R.C.
US Interest range from multination efforts to dismantle the Lord’s Resistance Army, to climate change and the protection of one of the world’s most important ecosystems, to advancing global energy security, and to the economic benefits that derive from open and secure borders.
If the D.R.C. were more stable and had an economy that benefitted all Congolese, it could become a leading exporter of natural resources, agricultural products, and scientific research that could attract substantial U.S. and other foreign investment.
D.R.C. possesses the second largest rainforest in the world, and it must be a critical partner in any global effort to combat climate change and to conserve and protect our biodiversity.
Never-ending records of violence
Violence has once plagued the eastern part Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where armed groups have targeted civilians in the area last year.
Massacres of civilians have made headlined beginning early in August.
According to UN, the deterioration of the overall security situation in North Kivu following the M23 mutiny and related ruthless attacks against civilians is extremely alarming.
The M23 has clashed with national army troops and peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), which has caused massive displacement of local residents.
The M23’s activities have led to condemnation from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the Security Council as well.
According to UN, more than 45 attacks on some 30 villages and towns in the Ufamandu I and II areas, in Masisi territory, in North Kivu province since May 2012.
In May 2012, fighting has resumed in eastern DRC in recent weeks between Government forces, dissident groups and militia, causing new inflows of refugees enter Rwanda and Uganda.
Reports say 30,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda this month. In addition, Uganda was already host to 175,127 refugees, including 97,424 from DRC.
There were an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of July 2011, the vast majority of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. This included over 128,000 people newly displaced in the first quarter of 2011.
A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.