28 November 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. State Department's Carson Pushes for Cease-Fire in DRC

Photo: Jessica Hatcher/IRIN
Congolese Red Cross team collecting dead bodies drive through rebel-held Goma.

Washington — The Obama administration's top envoy to Africa is working with leaders in the Great Lakes region and with French and German diplomats to push for a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to be followed by a longer-term resolution of the conflict in the eastern part of the country.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters November 28 that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson had extended his travel to the Great Lakes region and has been "very much engaged with the parties" after recent fighting between DRC security forces and the M23 rebel group.

Nuland said Carson has been pressing officials in the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda to support a plan they agreed to whereby M23 would withdraw from the territory it has captured from Congolese forces since July 7.

In a November 20 statement, Nuland said M23's renewed military campaign was "an affront to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and in violation of international law" and added that any resolution of the crisis needs to include "holding the M23 leadership accountable for their human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law."

She also expressed U.S. support for the U.N. Security Council's call for additional sanctions against the M23 leadership, as well as its demand that all outside support and supplies of equipment to the rebel group must immediately stop.

"We underscore the importance of a long-term solution to the instability in the eastern DRC," Nuland said.

"A durable solution will require security sector reform in the DRC and political dialogue with Rwanda and Uganda and the other relevant states in the region to address the root causes of the crisis," she said.

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