Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

25 February 2013

Tanzania Pledges to Help Restore Peace in DRC

After nearly 20 years of fighting, the Democratic Republic of Congo has moved a step closer to peace. Leaders from 11 African countries have signed an ... ( Resource: African Leaders Sign DR Congo Peace Deal

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has assured the international community that Tanzania will play its part in making sure that peace prevails in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speaking during the signing ceremony of the peace deal of the DRC held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Kikwete said the people of the DRC had suffered for too long.

He insisted that they now deserve a break. Leaders from Africa's Great Lakes Region nations signed a new peace deal aimed at bringing stability to the war-torn east of the DRC and will enable the countries to send a collective total of 2,500 troops to DRC.

"The signatures we have just appended to the Framework are a solemn undertaking and commitment to deliver on the aspirations of the people of DRC and the Great Lakes Region for peace, security, stability and cooperation.

"On behalf of the government and people of the United Republic of Tanzania, I promise that we will play our part accordingly," the president noted. He stressed that people of DRC needed peace and security so they pursue economic development activities.

"They deserve to live a better life; a life where their safety and security is assured and guaranteed; a life where they pre-occupy themselves with more important things for improving their living conditions," the president told the gathering.

President Kikwete also commended the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Kimoon, for the great initiative and the AU Commission Chairperson, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, for the leadership which made this deal possible. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary- general, witnessed the signing on Sunday at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The presidents of the DRC, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia either attended or delegated the power to sign the deal. According to the UN, the "peace framework agreement" could lead to the creation of a special UN intervention brigade in eastern DRC to combat rebel groups and renew political efforts.

Reports from Mugunga camp for internally displaced persons outside Goma, said people were optimistic that the agreement was the beginning of something. Mugunga is host to tens of thousands of Congolese people who had to flee their homes following violence in the east in November 2012.

The DRC's mineral-rich east has been ravaged by numerous armed groups, with new rebel movements spawned on a regular basis, some of them with backing from neighbouring countries. The latest surge in violence was in 2012 and culminated in the rebel March 23 Movement (M23) force briefly seizing the key town of Goma last November.

M23, which was not invited to yesterday's event, was founded by former fighters of an ethnic-Tutsi rebel group whose members were integrated into the regular army under a peace deal whose terms they claim were never fully delivered. The group's main demand now is the full implementation of a peace accord signed on March 23, 2009.

M23 controls part of Rutshuru region, an unstable but fertile territory that lies in mineral-rich North Kivu province and borders on Rwanda and Uganda. Several of its leaders have been hit by UN sanctions over alleged atrocities. The group has been accused of raping women and girls, using child soldiers and killing civilians. Peace talks have been held in Uganda, but so far have made little headway.

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