President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Howard Wolpe, has urged people in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be patient as they look forward to greater peace and stability in their region.
Speaking in Bukavu, yesterday Wolpe also expressed his government’s gratitude at the steps taken by Kigali and Kinshasa to work towards bringing peace, stability and development in the region.
He pointed out that the current political and diplomatic rapprochement between Rwanda and DRC will bear fruit in the medium and long term, despite the security problems that persist, especially for the people of the North and South Kivus.
“We are really aware that insecurity remains the principal problem for most people in this region. However, I hope that what the improvement of relations between Rwanda and the DRC has brought is new opportunities to move forward,” Wolpe said.
He stressed that this will make a difference, over time, not only in the field of cooperation and military support, but also in the field of economic development.
“The reality is that all states in this Great Lakes region need each other. They need to realise the enormous economic potential they have,” Wolpe noted.
Several militia groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), whose nucleus is composed of the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, operate in the vast eastern part of the DRC.
The FDLR has been on the receiving end of several joint Rwanda-DRC and UN-DRC military offensives since early 2009 in a bid to flush it out of the area where it has been killing, raping and pillaging ever since it fled Rwanda in 1994.
After meeting earlier on Tuesday with representatives of the UN Mission in DRC – MONUC, in Bukavu, Wolpe carried on with several other meetings in South Kivu.
He was scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday with the Congolese army, civilian authorities as well as civil society in the province.