A rebel group blamed for killing scores of civilians and displacing tens of thousands more in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced the end of its rebellion and is seeking a peace agreement with the government.
Bertrand Bisimwa, a political leader of the M23 insurgency, said that members of the M23 have been instructed to lay down their arms and prepare to demobilize. The announcement followed a successful push by the Congolese military supported by United Nations peacekeepers that forced the rebels out of their last strategic stronghold. Numerous soldiers and the group’s military leader have fled into Uganda and are currently being detained by authorities there.
The United States welcomes the expected peace agreement as a significant, but preliminary, step in resolving the humanitarian and security crisis in the eastern DRC. The United States commends the parties for their commitment to accountability for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ending impunity is critical to breaking the cycle of rebellion in the DRC and setting the country on the road to sustainable peace. The end of the M23 rebellion will also enable Congolese authorities and the UN peacekeepers to turn their attention to neutralizing the numerous remaining armed groups operating in the area.
Sustainable peace in the DRC requires resolving the root causes of conflict and instability in the region. The United States continues to believe that the implementation of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework Agreement, signed in February by the DRC, Rwanda, and nine other countries in the region, presents the best opportunity for resolving these root causes of conflict. With the conclusion of the Kampala Dialogue and an end to the M23 rebellion, the United States urges the countries in the region to build on this positive momentum by launching a regional-led mediated dialogue under the auspices of the Framework and aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict and expanding economic development in the region.
The United States stands ready to support the region in launching such a dialogue and furthering the Framework peace process for the betterment of the Congolese people and the Great Lakes region.