UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he plans to appoint former Irish President Mary Robinson as his envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa to oversee a UN-mediated peace deal meant to end the interminable cycles of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Diplomats said on Friday that Ban had written a letter informing the 15-member Security Council of his intention to name Robinson as UN Great Lakes special envoy, Reuters reported.
Diplomats also stated that there were unlikely to be any objections at the Security Council to the appointment of Robinson, who was the UN high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002.
Meeting in the Mozambican capital Maputo on February 8, leaders from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) approved the deployment of a 4,000-strong peacekeeping force, which would come from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries, to Congo.
The force will be able to combat “whoever is trying to destabilize the situation in the eastern part of Congo,” SADC Secretary General Tomaz Salomao said after the meeting.
Robinson will help oversee implementation of the peace accord.
In July 2012, Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, signed an accord that called for the creation of a neutral international military force to combat rebels in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in the eastern Congo.
The agreement also called for the Great Lakes leaders to work with the African Union and the United Nations “for an immediate establishment of a neutral international force to eradicate M23, FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), and all other negative forces in eastern DRC, and patrol and secure the border zones.”
The March 23 movement (M23) rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has draggPed on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead