SABC News - UN reiterates need to neutralize armed groups in DRC :Thursday 7 November 2013

UN reiterates need to neutralize armed groups in DRC

Thursday 7 November 2013 05:23

Sherwin Bryce-Pease

The United Nations Security Council is expected to emphasize in the coming days the need to neutralize all the other armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly the remnant Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the FDLR.

This emerged after a closed-door briefing in New York with head of the UN Mission in the country, Martin Kobler and Great Lakes Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, who updated members on the recent military defeat of the M23 rebel group.

The Council described the news as a positive development in the search of a lasting solution to the decades long insecurity in the region.

It's a case of one down, many to go. With M23 vanquished as a fighting force, the military focus now shifts elsewhere, as French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud explains, "All other armed groups, beside the M23 which threaten civilians in the Kivu, need to be neutralized and with the support of Monusco (The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Congolese authorities need to deal with the FDLR the ADF-Nalu and the Mai-Mai and finally the states of the region must deal with the root causes of the conflict."

France, which holds the pen on all Council texts related to the DRC, says it will circulate a draft presidential statement, one level below a resolution, that will support the positive developments on the ground. This was confirmed by Council President and China’s Permanent Rep, Lui Jieyi.

"The situation is still very complex on the ground, we do realize that it is not the end of the road if we work out an agreement between the government of the DRC and the M23, there are other groups that are still in the region and it is important for the council to work and also for the governments in the region to work so that there is overall peace and stability on the ground."

Referring to the closed door briefing, France also indicated that there was some hesitation on the part of the DRC government that they would go ahead with signing the Kampala peace accords, given that M23 had now been crushed militarily.

Ambassador Araud relayed what was discussed, "It appears that there is some hesitation I think on the side of the DRC authorities now that the rebellion movement has been crushed to sign a sort of agreement between equals, but at the same time the DRC authorities have reaffirmed their will in a sense to behave in good faith for reconciliation."

However for its part, the UN Secretariat still expects a deal to be reached in the coming days, as a rather hoarse sounding spokesperson Farhan Haq told the daily briefing with the press.

"I’m not going to speculate on what might happen in the coming days, our expectation remains that the parties will be able to deal with each other through an actual agreement. I do believe Mr Kobler continues to do his diplomatic work as does Mary Robinson and I also expected that he will travel to Kampala in the coming days."

A joint communiqué between SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region issued in Pretoria earlier this
week called on M23 to renounce the rebellion before they would be allowed to become signatories to the Kampala accords.

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