The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the mutinous soldiers fighting it have agreed to preliminary talks.
The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the mutinous soldiers fighting it have agreed to preliminary talks aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict in the Eastern DRC.
The insurgency has displaced over 300,000 people in North Kivu province and has aggravated an already dire humanitarian situation in the region. Preliminary talks to discuss ground rules for further negotiations began on December 6, with the Ugandan government serving as mediator.
In a renewed offensive last month, the rebels, known as the M23, seized the city of Goma and other key areas in North Kivu. It withdrew in response to the November 24 agreement reached by the members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, which called on the M23 to withdraw 20 kilometers from Goma and for the DRC government to review the group’s grievances. These are largely based on the March 23, 2009 Goma peace accord that ended a similar rebellion by the M23’s precursor, the CNDP.
As the talks proceed, we call on participants to fully comply with the November 21 and 24 agreements signed by the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda heads of state and by ICGLR member countries, to prioritize a permanent cease-fire, preserve humanitarian access to civilians in need, respect the DRC’s territorial integrity, and ensure that those responsible for violations of human rights and international law are held accountable.
While we welcome the current ceasefire and await the outcome of the talks underway in Kampala, we believe that honest dialogue between the governments of the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda is the only avenue to a durable political resolution to both the immediate crisis and the root causes of persistent instability in the region. We urge all parties to refrain from provocation and give time for a political resolution to be reached.