The United Nations special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region on Tuesday joined other senior diplomatic officials in welcoming the announcement by the M23 rebel group that it is ending its bloody insurgency against the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which for nearly two years has exacerbated humanitarian strife in the country’s restive east.
Welcoming the announcement in a statement issued from the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, and Martin Kobler, Special Representative and head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, were joined by a host of other diplomats, including Boubacar Diarra, African Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Russell Feingold, United States Special Envoy for the region and the DRC, and Koen Vervaeke, European Union Senior Coordinator to the region.
The envoys also welcomed the commitment of the Congolese Government to end combat and complete steps agreed to as part of the Kampala Dialogue. The envoys commended Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Defense Minister, Crispus Kiyonga, for their “patient and determined leadership” in facilitating the Dialogue.
“The Envoys urge both parties to conclude the political process by signing a principled agreement that ensures the timely disarmament and demobilization of the M23 and accountability for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the statement said, adding that the officials also welcomed the reestablishment of State authority by the Congolese Government in areas previously held by the M23.
While the envoys noted that the end of the M23 rebellion represents an important step in ensuring sustainable peace in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region, they stressed that “this is only one step towards addressing the persistent conflict and instability, and to ensure an end to all illegitimate armed actors in the DRC, including the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda).”