The New Times (Kigali)

14 September 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Crisis Can Be Resolved Through Peace Talks

Photo: UN Multimedia
Peacekeepers in armoured vehicles from the United Nation'’s mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

editorial

The Third Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), held in Kampala on September 7-8, requested the bloc's current chair, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, to play a mediatory role between the warring parties in the latest unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The objective is to avoid the escalation of skirmishes in the volatile region, with the M23 rebels having stated they are ready for a political settlement of the crisis, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.

While Kinshasa has previously ruled out peace talks with the mutineers, who accuse the government of reneging on a 2009 accord that had integrated former rebels into the national army, the regional body hopes the former will choose negotiations as opposed to costly military confrontations.

Today, the ICGLR will operationalise an expanded Joint Verification Mechanism in Congolese eastern city of Goma, as one of the concrete steps towards restoring good neighbourliness and establishing the truth about the conflict in order to finding a sustainable solution to the recurrent conflicts.

One of the options on the table is the deployment of a regional neutral force to particularly disarm all local and foreign negative forces operating in the region. However, this option should come as a last resort. For the moment, it is both urgent and important that no efforts are spared in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the crisis to avoid further hostilities and genuinely tackle the root causes of the persistent conflicts in eastern Congo, other than just attempting to solve the symptoms of deep-seated, structural problems.

The region and the wider world should help the Congolese people who have suffered at the hands of a myriad of armed groups operating in the region to return to normal life and pursue their legitimate aspirations for a brighter future.

The international community should support these diplomatic efforts, and cease the distracting blame game.

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