Congo-Kinshasa: African Union Welcomes Defeat of M23 Rebels14 November 2013
Addis Ababa — The African Union (AU) has "welcomed" the defeat of the M23 rebels and called on the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) to pursue other "negative elements" in the volatile eastern part of the country.
In its 406th sitting on Wednesday, the Peace and Security Council of the AU said it "Welcomes the restoration of State authority in the areas previously controlled by the March 23 Movement (M23) rebellion."
The M23 was defeated by the Congolese army assisted by a United Nations Intervention Brigade with a mandate to use force.
On 5 November, the rebel group renounced rebellion against the Kinshasa government and dissolved itself.
The AU also called for the DRC government to pursue other armed elements roaming in mineral- rich eastern Congo
"Council encourages the DRC armed forces and the Intervention Brigade to pursue and intensify efforts, in order to neutralise other negative forces."
The AU named what it termed negative forces as, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the allied Democratic Forces/ National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU and the Mai Mai militia. All are rebel groups hostile to either DRC, Rwanda and Uganda but based in eastern Congo.
A peace agreement that should have been signed between the DRC government and the M23 rebels flopped on Monday in Kampala after the DRC delegation said it needed more time to study the agreement.
The delegation also accused Uganda, the mediator of the talks, of having an "interest in M23" an accusation Uganda swiftly denied.
No date has been set for the signing of the peace agreement between the M23 and DRC but both sides are reportedly in contact with the mediator of the talks, Uganda's defence minister, Chrispus Kiyonga.
Congo-Kinshasa: The Fall of the M23 - African Geopolitics and the DRCBy Ben Shepherd, 14 November 2013
The termination of the M23 rebel group signals a major shift in regional power relations in the Great Lakes and east Africa region.
The M23 insurgency has ended. The immediate reason is comprehensive military defeat at the hands of the Congolese army, heavily supported by the UN. The Congolese army, the FARDC has performed better than expected, the UN mission - notably the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) - has stepped up, and the M23 edifice proved to be largely hollow. It was pushed out of the last remaining towns under its control in a matter of days, and has now seemingly decided to down arms.
The second-order reason is Rwanda's decision to remain disengaged. Where the M23 had previously benefitted from Rwandan support, documented in detail by successive reports of a UN panel of experts, it was this time left to stand or fall on its own. It is a potentially important - even epochal - change. There has been a Rwandan-linked politico-military group active in eastern DRC since the late 1990s. That Kigali currently seems content to abandon this long-standing policy suggests a significant shift in its strategic thinking.
The most important question is: what drove this change? Many commentators have pointed to Western diplomacy as the answer, notably the direct personal engagement of senior figures - US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Minister William Hague among them - in dissuading the Rwandan leadership from any further cross-border adventures. Combined with suspensions or cuts to military and development assistance, as well as the erosion of Rwanda's hard-won international reputation, this is postulated to have been decisive in changing the parameters of the strategic equation being balanced in Kigali.
But, while important, this is not necessarily the whole story. In fact, Rwanda's partners in the donor community have pulled such levers many times in the past, notably following the exposure of Rwandan support to the DRC-based CNDP militia established by Laurent Nkunda - again by a UN panel of experts - in late 2008. Though that period of pressure resulted in a short-term peace deal, it did not fundamentally change the terrain. The birth of the M23 in early 2012 emphatically was proof of that.
There are two other factors to consider. The first is the gradual erosion of support for Rwandan-linked groups from the Congolese communities on whose behalf they have putatively been operating. The vast majority of former CNDP forces that integrated into the national army at the time of a peace treaty in 2009 have remained in post, resisting the temptation to join their former comrades in the M23. Many are from the Congolese Tutsi community, historically at the heart of the Rwandan-linked rebellions. Though there will be as many motives as there are individuals, it seems likely that many have recognised that there is little to gain from perpetual conflict. The majority of their grievances, from a dysfunctional state to pervasive insecurity, are shared by all Congolese, and, in the long-run, holding a - literal and metaphorical - gun to the Congolese body politic only serves to make things worse.
The second is a shift in regional politics. Observers have long posited a division of the DRC into informal zones of influence between the DRC's neighbours. The west, key to Angola's national security, fell under a tacit security guarantee underwritten by Luanda; the east, including the Kivus, were left open to Rwandan - and, to a lesser extent, Ugandan - influence. Although this arrangement may have been sufficient to maintain stability across the majority of the DRC's territory, away from the hot zones of the Kivus, it was at the price of real progress in infrastructure, development or growth beyond the extractives sector.
While such a stasis may have been acceptable for Angola, it seems to have been less so for Angola's partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A 'neutral intervention force' for eastern DRC was mooted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in mid-2012 but dismissed by many as a distraction. After months of inconclusive discussion, it was a SADC summit in Tanzania in December 2012 that transformed the idea into a political reality, committing a standby force - including Tanzanian and South African battalions under a Tanzanian commander. Though the resulting Force Intervention Brigade was eventually deployed under the overall command of the UN, it retains Tanzanian leadership and South African muscle, including state-of-the-art attack helicopters. South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, was on a high profile visit to Kinshasa at the moment of M23's demise, and South Africa subsequently hosted a joint ICGLR-SADC conference to nail down the terms of the peace. The Kivus, long caught in a murderous push-pull between central and east Africa, may just have been firmly claimed for the South.
Thus, despite the focus of many commentators on the diplomatic role of the donors, it was its alignment with an African-led initiative that made the real difference. Put simply, humiliating South Africa and Tanzania would carry very different costs for Kigali than rolling-over a much-maligned UN mission. Such a tectonic shift may have long-term implications elsewhere - notably an emerging realignment in the East African Community towards a Rwandan-Ugandan-Kenyan axis that seems to exclude Tanzania - but it may have brought some much-needed respite to the long-suffering people of eastern DRC.
Ben Shepherd is an Associate Fellow in the Africa Programme This article was originally published by This is Africa.
Congo-Kinshasa: Security Council Issues Statement Welcoming End of Hostilities by 'M23' in Democratic Republic of Congo14 November 2013
All Stakeholders Urged to Swiftly Conclude, Implement Final Comprehensive Outcome
Condemning the 19-month M23 insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council issued a presidential statement today, welcoming the armed group's announcement of an end to its rebellion, the Government's acceptance of that announcement and the cessation of hostilities.
In a statement read out by Liu Jieyi ( China), its President for November, the Council called for the swift conclusion and implementation of a final, comprehensive and agreed outcome, in line with the Kampala talks, which provided for the disarmament and demobilization of the M23, as well as accountability on the part of human rights abusers.
Commending the efforts of Uganda's President and Defence Minister in facilitating the conclusion of the talks, the Council called for the immediate and permanent disarmament and demobilization of the M23 combatants, with the assistance of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), in accordance with resolution 2098 (2013).
The Council also welcomed the initial steps taken by MONUSCO in its support and lead coordination role of Security Sector Reform and urged the continuation of those efforts. It also acknowledged the commitment of all troop-contributing countries to implementing the full range of the Mission's responsibilities.
Recognizing the significant sacrifices made by MONUSCO and the troop-contributing countries and appreciating their efforts, the Council emphasized that any effort to undermine MONUSCO's ability to implement its mandate would not be tolerated and that those responsible for threats to attacks against peacekeepers must be held accountable.
The Council also expressed deep concern regarding the sustained regional threat posed by the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda and stressed the importance of permanently neutralizing all armed groups.
Reiterating its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as of all countries in the region, the Council stressed the primary responsibility of the Congolese Government for security, protection of civilians, national reconciliation, peacebuilding and development.
As well, the Council called on the Government to remain fully commitment to establishing a professional, accountable and sustainable national army.
It also took note of the statements of the country's President on army reform, pursuit of the electoral process and ending the cycle of impunity. The Council urged the Government to finalize the development of comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement plans.
It further called on the Government to consolidate State authority, make progress on decentralization and rule of law, and advance the agenda of reconciliation, tolerance, and democratization in line with the African Union's Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and Council resolution 2098 (2013).
Expressing grave concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the statement called upon all parties to allow safe and unhindered access for the timely and full delivery of humanitarian aid to all civilians in urgent need of assistance.
It also called upon all States in the region to work towards a peaceful environment conducive to the eventual voluntary return and reintegration of refugees to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Noting with concern the regional security implications of the conflict in the eastern part of the country and supporting regional confidence-building measures, the Council called for the completion of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism investigations on cross-border incidents.
It encouraged the United Nations, the African Union, and other relevant international and regional organizations to work together with the sustained engagement and support of the international community towards the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and the establishment of a broader dialogue among key parties that addressed the deeper drivers of conflict.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:10 a.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2013/17 reads as follows:
"After 19 months of a rebellion which has exacerbated the humanitarian strife in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Security Council welcomes the announcement by the M23 to put an end to its rebellion, the Government of DRC's acceptance of this announcement and the cessation of hostilities between the DRC and the M23.
The Security Council condemns the violence caused by this rebellion, which has resulted in a significant loss of civilian life, as well as of MONUSCO peacekeepers' lives, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
"The Security Council calls for the swift conclusion and implementation of a final, comprehensive and agreed outcome, in line with the Kampala talks, that provides for the disarmament and demobilization of the M23 and accountability for human rights abusers.
The Council commends the efforts of President Museveni and Defence Minister Kiyonga in facilitating the conclusion of these talks. The Security Council calls for the immediate and permanent disarmament and demobilization of the M23 combatants, with the assistance of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), in accordance with resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council reaffirms its strongest support to the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and MONUSCO in the implementation of resolution 2098 (2013) and urges the continuation of their efforts.
The Security Council welcomes the measures taken by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, the SRSG and MONUSCO in support of a political solution, in line with a comprehensive strategy for durable peace and security, and commends the active steps taken by MONUSCO to implement fully its mandate, in particular the protection of civilians.
The Security Council welcomes the initial steps taken by MONUSCO in its support and lead coordination role of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in the DRC and urges the continuation of these efforts.
The Security Council acknowledges the commitment of all troop contributing countries to MONUSCO to implementing the full range of the mission's responsibilities in line with resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council recognizes the significant sacrifices made by MONUSCO and the troop contributing countries and expresses appreciation for their efforts to improve peace and stability in eastern DRC.
The Security Council expresses condolences to the families of the peacekeepers killed in action while protecting the people of eastern DRC. The Security Council emphasizes that any effort to undermine MONUSCO's ability to implement its mandate will not be tolerated and that those responsible for threats or attacks against peacekeepers must be held accountable.
"The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the sustained regional threat posed by the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), a group under UN sanctions whose leaders and members include perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and have continued to promote and commit ethnically-based and other killings in Rwanda and the DRC, and stresses the importance of permanently addressing this threat.
The Security Council stresses the importance of neutralizing the FDLR and all armed groups, including the ADF, the LRA and various Mayi Mayi groups, in line with resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC as well as of all countries of the region.
The Security Council stresses that the Government of DRC bears primary responsibility for security, protection of civilians, national reconciliation, peacebuilding and development in the country.
It underlines that the recent achievements of the FARDC in defeating M23 on the ground must encourage the Government of DRC to sustain efforts to neutralize FDLR and other armed groups.
In that regard, the Security Council further welcomes DRC President Joseph Kabila's public reaffirmation on October 30 that his Government intends to neutralize the FDLR and stresses the importance of rapid follow-through.
"The Security Council further welcomes the November 4 statement by SRSG Kobler noting MONUSCO's intention not to allow FDLR and other armed groups to take advantage of the changing security dynamics on the ground and its commitment to act decisively on all attempts to exploit the situation.
"The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing violence and abuses of human rights by all armed groups, including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and large scale recruitment and use of children, demands that all armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence and destabilizing activities and that their members immediately and permanently disband, lay down their arms and demobilize children from their ranks, and reiterates that those responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law will be held accountable and should not be eligible for integration into the FARDC or other elements of State security forces.
"The Security Council calls upon the Government of DRC to remain fully committed to establishing a professional, accountable and sustainable national army, including a Rapid Reaction Force, in accordance with its commitment to deepen SSR.
The Security Council takes note of the statement of the President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, of 23 October 2013 in which he indicated that army reform will constitute his top priority, and announced the pursuit of the electoral process, and his commitment to ensure that the DRC judicial system will effectively address the cycle of impunity.
The Security Council urges the Government of the DRC to finalize the development of a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement (DDRRR) plan.
The Security Council calls on the Government of DRC to consolidate State authority, make progress on decentralization, rule of law, and further the agenda of reconciliation, tolerance, and democratisation, in line with the PSC framework and resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council recalls that there should be no impunity for any of those responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the DRC and the region, and, in this regard, urges the DRC, all countries of the region and other concerned UN Member States to bring perpetrators to justice.
"The Security Council recalls its resolutions on women, peace and security, and reiterates that all actors must strengthen their efforts to combat impunity for conflict-related sexual violence, to provide all necessary services to survivors, and to ensure the equal and full inclusion of women at all stages of conflict resolution, reconstruction and the promotion of peace including through taking account of the call of the 11 July 2013 Bujumbura Declaration for ensuring that benchmarks, indicators and follow-up measures of the plan of implementation for the PSC Framework are gender-sensitive.
The Security Council urges the Government of DRC to expedite the investigation of the November 2012 mass rapes committed by elements of the FARDC in Minova and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"The Security Council recalls its resolutions and presidential statements on children and armed conflict and reiterates that all parties in the DRC must halt and prevent the recruitment and use of children, protect and consider as victims those children who have been released or otherwise separated from armed forces and armed groups, and pay particular attention to the protection, release and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces and groups.
The Security Council urges the Government of the DRC to continue implementing the action plan to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children and sexual violence against children signed on 4 October 2012.
"The Security Council expresses grave concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the 2.7 million internally displaced people and the 6.4 million people in need of food assistance and emergency agricultural aid, and calls upon all parties to allow safe and unhindered access for the timely and full delivery of humanitarian aid to all civilians in urgent need of assistance, in accordance with relevant provisions on international law, including international humanitarian law and the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance.
The Security Council further expresses concern with the over 450,000 refugees who have fled from the DRC and calls upon the DRC and all States in the region to work towards the peaceful environment conducive to the eventual voluntary return and reintegration of refugees to the DRC, with the support, as appropriate, of the UNHCR.
The Security Council commends in this regard the support provided by neighbouring countries to refugees from the DRC. The Security Council encourages the Rwandan Government, United Nations and international organizations to work together to urgently address the situation of former M23 combatants interned in Eastern Rwanda since March 2013.
"The Security Council notes with concern the regional security implications of the conflict in eastern DRC and supports in this regard regional confidence-building measures, including the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), and further calls for the completion of its investigations on cross-border incidents.
The Security Council welcomes the decision of the ICGLR to grant permanent representation of MONUSCO in the EJVM. The Security Council expresses concern at shells landing in Rwanda, which resulted in civilian loss of life, urges the swift conclusion of the EJVM investigations into this cross-border shelling, commends the restraint shown so far by Rwanda and urges its continuation. The Security Council further urges restraint by all other parties.
"The Security Council stresses the need to address sustainably the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC and reiterates its support for the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, which is essential to achieving lasting peace and security in the Great Lakes region.
The Security Council calls upon all signatories to fulfil promptly, fully and in good faith their respective commitments under the PSC Framework. The Security Council welcomes the November 4 joint Summit of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern-African Development Community (SADC) in Pretoria.
The Security Council commends the engagement of Special Envoy Mary Robinson and encourages her, in coordination with and with appropriate support from the SRSG for the DRC, to continue to lead, coordinate and assess the implementation of national and regional commitments under the PSC Framework.
"The Security Council encourages the United Nations, the African Union, the ICGLR, SADC and other relevant international and regional organizations to continue to work together, with the sustained engagement and support of the international community, towards the implementation of the PSC Framework, and the establishment of a broader dialogue among key parties that addresses the deeper drivers of conflict in eastern Congo."
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