26 February 2013

Central Africa: Regional Accord Signed

Addis Ababa — East African leaders have signed an accord at the African Union headquarters, in Addis Ababa, for peace in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The accord which was signed in the presence of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was aimed at bringing peace DRC after armed years of rebellion.

The 11 Heads of State and officials of the Great Lakes region who signed the accord expressed their commitment to restoring peace and justice in the region.

The accord foresees a strategic review of the UN peacekeeping mission in DR-Congo (MONUSCO) and a series of political and diplomatic steps toward restoring security in the territory. Among the main points agreed by the leaders is that of "no tolerance or support for any type of armed group" in the nation.

Rwanda and Uganda were repeatedly accused of financing and arming the M23 (March 23 Movement) rebels, who in December 2012 launched an offensive in DR-Congo, even seizing the capital of North Kivu Goma, then agreeing to withdraw in exchange for talks with the Kinshasa government. Kigali and Kampala have always denied their backing of the rebels.

Based on the accord, an "intervention brigade" will be integrated to the 17,000 strong MONUSCO force with a mandate of "imposing peace". This international force will be deployed along the border with Rwanda to neutralize all armed groups in the area: aside from the M23, also the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), the ADF-Nalu (Democratic Alliance-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) and the Burundian FNL (National Liberation Force).

The neighboring nations and international community will also be called to monitor and verify the peace process in the territory through a special envoy to be named by the UN.

The Kinshasa government pledged to introduce reforms, in particular concerning internal security, promoting national reconciliation, tolerance and democratization.

"The time has come to abandon the law of the strongest, rather than strength of the law", said Congolese President Joseph Kabila at the ceremony for the signing of the deal.

"This is just the start of a path, a global approach that needs constant commitment from all parts", said the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, expressing hope for a future of "peace and stability" for the Kivu region.

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