ADDIS ABABA — A new peace and security framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), signed on Sunday, is expected to bring stability to the country’s war-torn eastern region.
President Jacob Zuma represented South Africa at the signing in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The leaders of the DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo and South Sudan were also present.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had been scheduled to attend but remained in Kampala following the death of his father on Friday, sending his vice-president in his place. Zambia, Burundi and the Central African Republic were represented by senior ministers and Angola also by its vice-president.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon witnessed the signing and, together with the representatives of Uganda and Mozambique — chairs of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), respectively — will act as guarantors of the accord.
The agreement was to have been signed on January 28, on the sidelines of the AU summit, but it was cancelled at the last minute. At the time, Mr Ban said: “There were no fundamental differences over the content of the framework. Some procedural issues, however, did arise and we have agreed to postpone the signing.”
The Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region aims to address two of the root causes of the conflict in the eastern DRC: the country’s weak and dysfunctional security, justice and governance systems, and the continued interference from neighbouring countries. A UN report issued late last year accused Rwanda and Uganda of providing support to the M23 militia, a rebel group accused of murder, rape and recruiting child soldiers.
It also proposes oversight mechanisms — including the appointment of a UN special envoy and the establishment of a group consisting of the 11 signatory countries, the UN, the AU Commission, the ICGLR and Sadc — to ensure adherence to the framework’s commitments.
Mr Ban told the meeting that he would present a special report to the UN Security Council, which would include a proposal for a “strengthened political and security role for Monusco” — the UN’s peacekeeping operation in the DRC, which was widely criticised for failing to prevent M23 rebels from capturing the city of Goma in November last year.
The agreement does not, however, refer to the proposed deployment of a regional intervention force in the eastern DRC, a topic on which discussions are separate and continuing.