4 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Crisis - ICGLR Efforts Paying Off

Photo: Al Jazeera English
M23 rebel.

The M23 Movement last Saturday withdrew all its fighters from DRC's strategic eastern city of Goma and nearby locations, as part of a regional deal that envisages a political settlement to the latest conflict in the troubled country.

The withdrawal, which came nearly two weeks after the rebels overran the areas of Goma and Sake, is a positive step and provides a real chance for the warring parties to come to the negotiating table for the first time since the conflict broke out in April.

While the security situation in Goma remains fragile as Congolese forces gradually take charge, the withdrawal serves as proof that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is delivering on its mission to find a lasting solution.

With the rebels now in the designated locations as directed by the recent ICGLR Heads of State and Government Summit in Kampala, the ball is now in President Kabila's court. His government must honour its part of the bargain - to listen, evaluate and address the legitimate grievances of the M23 rebels.

President Kabila needs to ignore the finger-pointing as well as blame games, and stick with the region's blueprint to peace, which is already showing signs of breakthrough.

This situation has been exploited by various negative groups based in the Congo, including the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) - blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi - which has attacked Rwanda twice over the last one week, killing at least two civilians.

Most importantly, Kinshasa needs to evaluate the root causes of the recurrent conflict in the country and find a lasting solution with the help of regional and international partners.

The sooner this conflict is brought to an end the better for the Congolese people, their immediate neighbours and the wider region.

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