A new peace and security framework agreement to stabilize the eastern part of DR Congo was finally signed on Sunday in Addis Ababa by heads of states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
President Paul Kagame, who also signed the framework, described it an important step and opportunity in reaffirming their commitment to regional peace.
"I unreservedly welcome it," he pointed out. "Nothing would be of greater benefit to Rwanda than real progress to our regional peace and stability."
The agreement calls on countries in the region to abstain from interfering in the internal affairs of neighboring countries and to structurally reform institutions in the DRC.
"This agreement presents a valuable opportunity for all parties to build on the work started by the region and the wider continent, and focus seriously on addressing the real problems as clearly identified," Kagame noted. "It is crucial that the signing of this agreement not be seen as the end result of a peace process, but as a big step in the right direction."
The agreement was signed by eleven countries of the ICGLR namely Zambia, Congo Brazza, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Angola, Uganda, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo. It was also officiated by Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
President Kagame also noted that the pursuit of durable peace requires the collaborative engagement of the entire region and international community, adding that the framework that recognizes holistic approach to address the multifaceted root causes is the only way to end instability.
"Any meaning for contribution towards peace stability in DRC and in the great lakes region has to abandon the self defeating practice of selectivity in both memory and responsibility regarding the known long standing causes of recurring conflict," he noted.
The UN secretary general said that his body will soon announce the appointment of a Special Envoy to support the implementation of the framework together with stakeholders concerned. He also mentioned that his special report on the DR Congo and the Great Lakes region will be issued in the coming days.
"It will outline my proposal for a new comprehensive approach to addressing the underlying causes of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, which encompasses the various components of the Framework but also a strengthened political and security role for MONUSCO, including the deployment of an Intervention Brigade with a peace enforcement mandate," announced Ki-Moon.
The eastern DR Congo has been highly destabilized by groups of rebels including M23 which a UN report released last year alleged Rwanda and Uganda to support; though both countries categorically rejected the allegations.
The signing ceremony of the agreement was planned for last January during the AU summit, but the deal was postponed in the last minutes after that some of the countries requested more time for consultations.