THE African Union (AU) has strongly condemned the actions of the M23 forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and has called for sustained efforts to eradicate the presence of the group.
In a statement whose copy was made available to the 'Daily News' , the AU expressed its concern over the security and humanitarian situation prevailing in eastern DRC, its commitment to the respect of the unity and territorial integrity of that country, as well as its rejection of the recourse to armed rebellion, which poses a serious threat to peace, security and stability in the DRC and the region, while, at the same time, undermining the viability of the ongoing democratization process in the country.
The AU Peace and Security Council at its 335th meeting held on September 19, 2012, also called for sustained efforts to eradicate the presence of the negative forces in eastern DRC, effectively restore State authority, and promote lasting peace, security and stability in the region, including through the effective implementation of the Goma Agreement of March 23, 2009 between the Government of the DRC and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (NCDP).
The statement pointed out that these efforts will be on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the former Joint Special Envoys of the ICGLR, the AU and the UN, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, with the view to enabling the countries of the region to determine the best way forward.
The Security Council lauded the efforts of the Member States and the Executive Secretariat of the ICGLR, in order to find a lasting solution to the situation in eastern DRC and, in particular, expressed its appreciation to Uganda's President Yoweri K. Museveni, Chairperson of the ICGLR, for his role and initiatives that led to the suspension of an armed confrontation between the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) and the M23.
"In this regard, Council full supports all the measures set out in the Declaration adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Summit of the ICGLR, held in Kampala, Uganda, on September 8, 2012, namely the cessation of hostilities and the diplomatic efforts, the Neutral International Force, the expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM), the Joint Intelligence Fusion Centre (JIFC) and the Humanitarian Trust Fund," read part of the statement.
The Council also welcomed the cooperation between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the countries of the region, towards the search for a lasting solution and stressed in particular, the importance of the effective operationalization of the JVM, as well as the establishment and deployment of the envisaged Neutral International Force.
The AU Council requested the United Nations to provide necessary support to the efforts of countries of the region, particularly with regard to the operationalization of the Neutral International Force and the expanded JVM. "The Council calls upon all other members of the international community, in particular AU's bilateral and multilateral partners, to extend the necessary support to the efforts of the ICGLR," concluded the statement.