Central African leaders will meet again in the coming weeks to continue talks on a plan to end the ongoing rebellion by a group of Congolese military deserters calling themselves the “M23.” This four-month insurgence has led to an upsurge in violence in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The presidents of several Great Lakes region nations, including the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan, met in Kampala, Uganda, earlier this month and agreed to set up a committee of regional defense ministers tasked with developing ways to end this rebellion and others that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
When they gather again, they will continue to discuss the composition of a neutral military force that they hope can monitor the border with Rwanda – across which the M23 is receiving materiel support, including recruits – and, perhaps, help confront the rebels and end the fighting.
Mutinous Congolese forces led by a renegade general wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity have been battling the DRC government since April, destabilizing the region and damaging relations between the DRC and Rwanda. The United Nations has a force of more than 17,000 peacekeepers in the region. They are working laudably in the midst of resource challenges on both the security and humanitarian fronts in the vast, heavily forested and resource-rich area.
The United States commends the August 8 and 9 meeting of Great Lakes region leaders. We strongly support the continuing dialogue among these neighbors and hope that the talks will be guided by the principles of restraint and respect for sovereignty. As they refine the proposal for a neutral military force we will follow the discussions closely.
The ongoing violence in the DRC’s northern and southern Kivu provinces is a serious threat to regional security and stability. The U.S. supports the DRC’s efforts to confront the threat and urges all states in the region, including Rwanda, to work together to cut off support for the rebels, to disarm them and bring their leaders to justice.