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allAfrica - Congo-Kinshasa: New Urgency to Talks With M23 Rebels
Aaron Hall & Sasha Lezhnev
8 July 2013

There is a new urgency to the latest round of talks in Kampala between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its foes in the M23 rebel group.

For several months the parties have been going around in circles on issues ranging from a comprehensive political transition to the building of supermarkets in eastern Congo. However, the current talks come just before a United Nations force with a broader mandate begins operations. (…)

To achieve progress, the talks should include a benchmark that is already laid out in the peace framework that was signed by 11 regional states and the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in February. UN envoy Mary Robinson should urge nations in the region to agree on a partnership with the UN Intervention Brigade to address the fact that armed groups, such as M23 and the Rwandan rebels organized in the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) pose risks to regional security. Talks with the armed groups should be part of a strategy to address these concerns. (…)

Robinson and her team have a difficult task ahead of them in Kampala, but it is critical that they stay on track. While she should encourage the parties to work constructively, the opportunity presented through the new UN framework calls for tactics that break the mold of past efforts. It is essential that pressure be applied through existing channels of communication with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Congolese government to ensure that the issues are addressed with transparency, accountability and inclusivity.

If the lessons of failed past peace processes are not learned now, the new diplomatic investments will have been a waste of time, and eastern Congo will sink back into turmoil and large-scale violence.

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