26 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Ceasefire Feasible


THE renewed clashes between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government forces and the M23 rebels are not only retrogressive, but also counterproductive in the vast African country replete with natural resources.

It is sad that the country with rich mineral wealth has been embroiled in conflict for many years.

We are however hopeful that peace will prevail in the neighbouring country so that it can continue to contribute to regional as we as continental development.

According to recent statistics, DRC is estimated to have $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of mineral ores, which is equivalent to the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of United States of America (US) and Europe.

It hosts the world's largest cobalt reserves and significant quantities of diamonds, gold and copper.

With such an economic profile, the second largest country can realise its dormant fortune if the warring parties sealed a lasting ceasefire and agreed to collectively bolster sustainable economic development.

The insurgency in the Eastern city of Goma must immediately come to and end as directed by the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) summit in Kampala at the weekend.

Yes, the Fifth summit of the ICGLR has rightly placed issues in perspective that can bring to an end to conflict.

According to latest reports, DRC President Joseph Kabila and M23 leader Jean-Marie Runiga have agreed to meet this week to thrash out their differences and ultimately reach a ceasefire agreement.

The two warring parties should heed the IGGLR leaders' declaration that they must cease fire and also stop threats to depose Joseph Kabila's government.

Other resolutions of the summit hosted by ICGLR chairperson Yoweri Museveni in his country, Uganda, includes the need for the DRC government to evaluate grievances of M23.

The M23 has been directed to withdraw from current positions to at least 20km from Goma within two days.

Further, leaders resolved that a composite force comprising one neutral force, DRC military and national police should be deployed at Goma Airport.

The summit also resolved that the police that were disarmed in Goma by the M23 should be rearmed so that they can resume duty.

It is therefore hoped that this vast country with a population of 71 million people will once again concentrate on development through nurturing the rich mineral wealth.

DRC is an important part of the Great Lakes Region and invariably occupies a strategic position and nature to spearhead sustainable development.

As Zambia's Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba noted, peace is a cogent element of any meaningful development.

Mr Mwamba who represented President Michael Sata is equally confident that there are positive signs that peace will return to eastern DRC.

He is happy that President Kabila has shown willingness to dialogue with the M23, which has always demanded to have an audience with his government.

The negative effects of the clashes are not only affecting the Congolese, but neighbouring countries including Zambia, which has so far received more than 400 citizens from that country in Luapula Province.

President Kabila's government and the M23 must reach a peaceful agreement now.

Peace in DRC is feasible!

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