A first step to peace in eastern DRC?

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Thursday, 7 November, 2013

Mary Robinson and fellow international envoys welcome the end of hostilities between the M23 rebel group and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A team of international envoys led by Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes, has welcomed this week’s announcement by the M23 rebel group that it would end its revolt against the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the eastern part of the country.

Mary Robinson has been leading the international push to end two decades of conflict in the Great Lakes since her appointment as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy in March 2013. While peace and stability have long been elusive, the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC) signed by 11 countries in the region earlier this year has raised cautious hope that peace efforts may succeed.

In their statement, the international envoys referred to the announced cessation of hostilities by the M23 as “a first and necessary step to peace.” The envoys called on the M23 to renounce its rebellion as agreed, and on the DRC government to restrain from further military action at this stage. They further urged both parties to remain committed to seeing the political process through to a final and principled agreement.

M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa said that the group would disarm and pursue political talks in a statement released on Tuesday. The 20 months of fighting between the M23 and Congolese government forces have led to massive population displacement – including over 100,000 people in the past year – and worsened the region’s ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Mary Robinson issued the statement alongside Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the DRC and the Head of MONUSCO, Boubacar Diarra, AU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Russ Feingold, US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC, and Koen Vervaeke, EU Senior Coordinator to the Great Lakes Region.

Mary Robinson and her counterparts from the African Union, European Union and United States previously undertook a joint mission to the Great Lakes in September 2013 aimed at de-escalating tensions in the region. At the conclusion of their visit to DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, they had called on armed groups to lay down their weapons and work towards a political solution.

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