REGIONAL - The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has welcomed Friday’s peace agreement between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and called on the international community to support the two countries in its implementation.
He described the pact as ‘a significant breakthrough’ and urged negative forces operating in DRC, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), to lay down arms.
“This approach offers an opportunity for the comprehensive resolution of the fundamental problems posed by irregular armed groups in the eastern DRC,” Ki-Moon said through his spokesman on Monday.
Under the deal, signed in Nairobi, Kenya, the DRC committed itself to disarm FDLR rebels, and to hand over those suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide to Kigali and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for trial.
DRC agreed to prepare a detailed plan to disarm the militia, while the UN Mission in Congo (Monuc) offered to ‘provide support to the planning and subsequent implementation consistent with its mandate and capacities.’
The plan will be shared with the Rwandan government by December 1, according to the agreement signed by Rwanda’s Foreign Affaires Minister Dr Charles Murigande, his Congolese counterpart, Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, and representatives of the UN (facilitator), the European Union and the US.
And in turn, Rwanda reiterated to seal its border with Congo, and to prevent the entry into or exit from its territory of members of any armed group particularly Congolese rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda’s group.
Kigali also promised to prevent any form of support – military, material or human – being provided to any armed group in the DRC. Murigande told journalists in Kigali on Monday that the landmark agreement heralded a new era in the region, saying that DRC was committed to disarm the militia.
Estimated between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters, FDLR – which is largely composed of remnants of the former Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Interahamwe militia – has been at the heart of bloody conflicts in the region, including a 1998-2002 seven-nation conflict that was dubbed Africa’s world war.
“It is also an important step towards restoring peace and security for the populations that have suffered for so long,” Ki-Moon said, adding that the agreed steps include actions to fight impunity.
“He urges both Governments to act urgently to implement all the agreed measures and calls upon their international partners to support these efforts and to increase humanitarian assistance to respond to the dire situation on the ground,” he was quoted as saying in a statement posted to the UN website.
He added: “For its part, the United Nations is committed to supporting both Governments in their implementation of their common approach, and to help ensure the protection of civilians.”
Meanwhile, the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Rwanda, David MacRae, has expressed his optimism about the deal.
“I hope this agreement will work; in fact since the EU was one of the observers, we will try our best to encourage all the key players in this agreement to have it succeed,” MacRae
He added: “There is political will from the two Governments to put an end to the FDLR threat and the EU supports the courage of both parties. We hope that the agreement will work.”
The German Ambassador to Rwanda, Christian Clages, said that FDLR is a major security threat to the region.
He said that the DRC government has a big role in making the agreement a success.
“This agreement has a new approach because it was witnessed by the EU and US. Germany fully supports this initiative,” he said.