The United States welcomes the peace declarations by the DRC government and the M23 rebel group, signed on December 5 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Government leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are moving to re-establish law and order in areas of the nation’s eastern province of North Kivu, once held by M23 rebels, following the defeat of the rebel group last month by the Congolese military with the support of United Nations peacekeepers.
As police and civil authorities work to improve security and restore government authority and services in the region, they are also trying to create an environment to enable Congolese who fled during the fighting to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.
The United States welcomes the peace declarations by the DRC government and the M23 rebel group, signed on December 5 in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as the joint declaration by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on behalf of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and President Joyce Banda of Malawi on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.
The M23 announced it was laying down its arms and disbanding, and would seek no amnesty for those wanted for war crimes. In conjunction with the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework, the declarations mark a strong step forward for peace in the eastern DRC.
The M23 took up arms in April 2012, accusing the DRC government of reneging on the terms of a previous peace accord. During the M23 rebellion, the group took control of some key cities and caused the displacement of some 800,000 people.
We now urge the parties to implement promptly the contents of their declarations, starting with the immediate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as appropriate of the former M23 fighters in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. We also urge the DRC government to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable.
The end of the M23 represents an important step toward resolving the region’s persistent insecurity, but much more needs to be done. The restoration of state authority in newly liberated areas is a critical step in building a foundation for lasting peace in the eastern DRC. The DRC, the nations of the Great Lakes region, and the international community must also seize the positive momentum to ensure the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, signed by 11 African nations in February of this year.
The region’s commitments to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty and to end all support to armed groups, and the DRC’s commitments to undertake governance and security sector reforms are equally important requirements for peace in the DRC and the region.