Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Congo-Kinshasa: It May Be Too Soon to Celebrate the Defeat of the M23

Mass Graves in Recaptured DR Congo Towns

Mass graves have reportedly been found in key towns previously held by the insurgents after they were retaken by government troops. Fighting between state soldiers and M23 rebels ... Read more »

South African Government (Pretoria)

Congo-Kinshasa: Joint Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference On the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Military men taking a nap as peace talks proceed
Pretoria — 1. Communique - Joint Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was held in Pretoria, South Africa on 04 November, 2013:
2. Joint Summit was co-chaired by Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of SADC and His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairman of the ICGLR.
3. Joint Summit was attended by the following Heads of State and Government or their representatives:
DRC - H.E. Joseph Kabila Kabange
Kenya - H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta
Lesotho - Rt. Hon. Motsoahae Thomas Thabane
Malawi - H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda
Namibia - H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba
South Africa - H.E. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
Tanzania - H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Uganda - H. E. Yoweri Museveni
Zimbabwe - H. E. Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Swaziland - Dr. Vincent Mhlanga, Acting Prime Minister
Angola - Hon Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Minister for External Relations
Botswana - H.E. Kenny Kapinga - High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa
Burundi - H.E. Gabriel Nizigama, Minister for Public Security
Congo Republic - H.E. Charles Richard Mondjo, Minister at Presidency in charge of National Defence
Mauritius - H.E. Mr. M.I. Dossa - High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa
Mozambique - H.E. Alberto Vaquina, Prime Minister
Rwanda - Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs
South Sudan - H.E. James Wani Igga, Vice President of the Republic
Sudan - H.E. Mr. Salah Wanasi, State Minister of Foreign Affairs
Zambia - Hon. Wynter Kabimba, Minister of Justice
4. Joint Summit was also attended by the Executive Secretaries of SADC and the ICGLR, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Prof. Ntumba Luaba, respectively.
5. Joint Summit was also attended by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security representing the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the representative of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region.
6. Joint Summit received and adopted the report of the Joint SADC/ICGLR Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the DRC and the Region, including the status of Deployment of the Intervention Brigade (IB) and the recent conflict between the FARDC and M23.
7. Joint Summit urged all signatories to the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the DRC and the Region to implement commitments made towards implementation of the Agreement.
8. Joint Summit commended the Republics of Malawi, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania for deploying their troops under the auspices of MONUSCO in the eastern DRC.
9. Joint Summit commended H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of the ICGLR for his efforts in facilitating the Kampala Dialogue.
10. Joint Summit noted that all the 11 issues under discussion in the Kampala Dialogue had been agreed upon and that the parties would sign an agreement on condition that the M23 makes a public declaration renouncing rebellion, after which the Government would make a public declaration of acceptance. Five days after this is done, then a formal signing of the agreement would be done.
11. Joint Summit commended the Government of the DRC for its efforts in ensuring that the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the DRC and the Region is implemented by all stakeholders in the country.
12. Joint Summit commended the FARDC and Intervention Brigade (IB) for recapturing M23 strongholds and restoring of government control.
13. Joint Summit urged MONUSCO/IB to maintain its enforcement mandate and capability with regard to uprooting all negative forces in the eastern DRC.
14. Joint Summit commended the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, H.E. Mrs Mary Robinson and the Technical Support Committee (TSC) for the progress made towards the implementation of the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for DRC and the Region.
15. Joint Summit recalled that the Technical Support Committee (TSC) had started its work in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2013 and has developed Benchmarks and Indicators of Progress for the International and Regional Commitments under the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework Agreement for DRC and the Region.
16. Joint Summit urged SADC and ICGLR Member States to honour the implementation of the benchmarks and indicators of the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for DRC and the Region.
17. Joint Summit urged SADC and ICGLR Member States to handover negative forces to their countries of origin within the spirit of the UN Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for DRC and the Region.
18. Joint Summit directed the two Secretariats to harmonise and synergize the work of ICGLR and SADC in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, as well as to establish a mechanism for Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to meet every six months to review progress leading to a Joint SADC/ICGLR Annual Summit of Heads of State and Government.
19. Joint Summit strongly condemned the recent act of terrorism in Kenya and expressed condolences to the government and people of Kenya following the death of more than 67 people and destruction of property.
20. Joint Summit strongly condemned the recent acts of violence being perpetrated by the RENAMO in the Republic of Mozambique and urged RENAMO to stop acts of violence forthwith.
21. Joint Summit noted the devastation caused by the recent flooding in South Sudan and expressed appreciation for the support received so far from the neighbouring countries and the International Community.
22. Joint Summit expressed its appreciation to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa for the warm hospitality extended to all delegates and facilities placed at their disposal.
Pretoria, Republic of South Africa
04 November, 2013
H.E. Dr Joyce Banda
President of the Republic Malawi and Chairperson of SADC
H.E. Yoweri Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of ICGLR
Dr. Stergomena L. Tax, Executive Secretary, SADC Secretariat
Prof. Alphonce Ntumba Luaba, Executive Secretary, ICGLR Secretariat


Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria)

Congo-Kinshasa: It May Be Too Soon to Celebrate the Defeat of the M23

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Military men taking a nap as peace talks proceed
It has been a good few weeks for Congolese President Joseph Kabila, the Congolese army, the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the recently deployed Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
A series of spectacular military victories against the M23, one of many armed groups that have been destabilising the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past decade, has led Martin Kobler, the head of MONUSCO, to declare the movement 'dead'. Images last week showed Kobler dancing triumphantly in the streets of Rutshuru, alongside the governor of North Kivu province, Julien Paluku. Rutshuru, an important trading town just north of the provincial capital, Goma, had been occupied by the M23 since it launched its mutiny in early 2012.
Reports from the ground indicate that the residents were as happy as Kobler to see them go. Within days, the civilian administration was reinstalled and, in a grand gesture, the provincial authorities announced that no taxes would be collected until next year. 'The M23 has harassed people so much and made them pay such exorbitant taxes,' Paluku said.
The military push started on October 25, several days after the peace talks in Kampala ended in a renewed impasse. The talks have been dragging on for ten months, and key international envoys involved in attempts to stabilise the region attended the most recent round in the hopes of pushing the parties to a final agreement. The talks have stalled essentially over two key issues: who gets amnesty, and who is integrated into the Congolese army. The Congolese government has agreed to allow M23 combatants to reintegrate into the army, and has also accepted that they be amnestied. However, it has ruled out integration and amnesty for the M23's senior leadership, and this has left the talks at an impasse. Regional envoys have reiterated that those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity should not be allowed to escape legal action.
Among those M23 leaders who face legal action is Sultani Makenga, the group's military leader since earlier this year. Makenga stands accused of serious crimes, including recruiting child soldiers and acts of sexual violence, and sanctions were imposed on him and the M23 movement by the UN Security Council and the US government in late-2012. Earlier this year, Bosco Ntaganda, who was then the leader of the M23, abandoned his hideout in the eastern DRC, snuck into Rwanda and surrendered to the US Embassy in Kigali. Ntaganda, who had led both the M23 and its predecessor, the National Council for the Defence of the People (CNDP), was wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes he allegedly committed when he was the military commander of yet another armed group active in the north-eastern DRC between 1999 and 2002. His surprising surrender followed weeks of violent infighting between one M23 faction loyal to him and the other loyal to Makenga. It is generally believed that Ntaganda surrendered because he realised that his Rwandan patrons were about to abandon him, or worse. Ntaganda certainly has a lot of information that would be very damaging to the Rwandan government were it to emerge in a trial at the ICC.

It is possible that Makenga and the senior M23 leadership also feared that they were about to be abandoned by Rwanda, and that the military defeats they suffered these last few days were indicative of the fact that Rwanda had already withdrawn its logistical and military support. But this is the first time that the Congolese army and MONUSCO have been able to inflict such heavy damage on the M23, which in recent weeks was reportedly reinforcing its positions, and this raises a number of questions about how this defeat came about, and whether it was a defeat or a strategic withdrawal.
It is certainly still too early to draw conclusions about the M23's long-term future as a military movement, but it is not immediately clear what advantage the M23 would gain from allowing itself to be militarily defeated and weakened in the public eye. The reaction of relief and joy among the majority of people living in the liberated areas also further damages the M23's desire to cast itself as a popular movement with wide appeal, and it will be difficult to ever recover from that.
If, then, the M23 were defeated, was this because Rwanda withdrew its support and refused to bail out its erstwhile proxy, or was it the overwhelming military power of the joint Congolese army-MONUSCO operation? If it is the latter, this is testimony to the strength of the FIB, which has recently reached its full complement with the arrival of the Malawian contingent. This is certainly the version of events that MONUSCO is putting forward, although it has also been careful to emphasise the role played by the Congolese army. If it is true that the FIB's military strength was the game-changer, this will be a very welcome new development in the situation in the east. It could also be a first step towards long-term stabilisation.
First of all, there are extremely high expectations among the population that the brigade will make a big difference, and the victories of the past weeks will have enhanced confidence in its abilities. This is vital in an area where the population has been subjected to an endless cycle of violence and reprisals from all armed groups, and where MONUSCO's failure to halt the M23's progress on several key occasions has undermined the credibility of the UN and the international community.
Second, the military victories over the M23 will send a very strong message to the many other armed groups operating in the east whose elimination is also part of the FIB's mandate. It may prompt them to consider the advantages of a negotiated solution over a drawn-out military campaign. If it really wants peace, Kinshasa will then have to react quickly to capitalise on this and to engage in robust negotiations that can bring a real end to the violence.
Third, it will also send an important message to the DRC's neighbours - who have long taken advantage of the weakness of the Congolese army to interfere at will - that the FIB is a significant military presence that takes seriously its role of going after the armed groups. It will be more difficult for Rwanda, under such circumstances, to continue to clandestinely support the M23 or other groups. Combined with growing criticism of Rwanda's role in the DRC, this could lead Rwanda to conclude that it is time to end its interference in that area. The imminent deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles that will monitor the border areas will also make it more difficult for Rwandan involvement to remain under the radar.
The events of the last two weeks have certainly raised hopes. But the M23 is only one of many armed groups operating in the eastern DRC. There are many others that have long rendered the lives of the population in these parts a living nightmare and that still need to be tackled politically and militarily. Equally, the role of Rwanda in recent developments is unclear - until we know for sure that it has ended its support to the M23, it is too early to celebrate.
Stephanie Wolters is Programme Manager in the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division of the ISS.


Central Africa: Joint Statement By the Great Lakes Envoys On the M23 Situation

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Military men taking a nap as peace talks proceed
Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Head of MONUSCO, Boubacar Diarra, AU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Russell Feingold, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC, and Koen Vervaeke, EU Senior Coordinator to the Great Lakes Region, are concerned about the renewed outbreak of violence between the M23 and the Government of the DRC. They take note of the announcement of the M23 of cessation of hostilities as a first and necessary step to peace.

The Special Envoys urge the M23 to renounce its rebellion as already agreed. The Envoys further call upon the Government of the DRC to restrain from further military action at this stage.

Recognizing substantial progress in the Kampala Dialogue, the Envoys urge both parties to remain committed to seeing the political process through to a final and principled agreement that ensures the disarmament and demobilization of the M23 and accountability for human rights abuses.

The joint ICGLR/SADC summit in Pretoria presents an important opportunity to build consensus on ending the immediate security crisis and moving forward with full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement.

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