Mushikiwabo: Rwanda still hopeful on DRC peace process

Rwanda has registered progress in implementing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo has said.
Louise Mushikiwabo,  Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Rwanda has registered progress in implementing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo has said.

The Framework was signed in Addis Ababa in February this year.

Mushikiwabo made the remarks ahead of the UN Security Council Debate on ‘Supporting the Great Lakes Framework’ scheduled for Thursday, July 25 in New York.

She is expected to take part in the debate, to be chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, where she will discuss what Rwanda has done towards the implementation of the framework.

The debate will focus on building on several events that have brought renewed efforts to establishing lasting peace that tackles the underlying causes of conflict in the region.

“We have made progress toward the Framework but what we need to see is the situation on the ground changing beyond the frameworks and the documents,” Mushikiwabo told The New Times in an interview on Friday.

“Different countries have done what they are supposed to do.”

The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region was signed on February 24 by Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Congo, DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

The accord aims at a complete restoration of peace in the region mainly in the eastern DRC.

It also seeks to end instabilities by use of a holistic approach that addresses the multifaceted root causes of the conflicts in the region.

Although efforts are being invested in realising the objectives of the Framework, concerns remain about warring parties’ commitments in supporting the process. 

Rwanda optimistic

“As part of implementing the framework, Rwanda received refugees and disarmed them, collaborated with the US in sending Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court (ICC), participated in the technical committee meetings establishing the evaluation mechanism of the framework and many more,” Mushikiwabo said, adding that; “However, we would want to see progress happening on the ground but we are very optimistic. The UN Secretary General Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson is doing a great job. She’s a good broker for the region.”

During the ministerial debate, participants are expected to address key challenges to the implementation of the framework and recommendations for addressing them, including ensuring civilian protection and human rights and steps to deal with any actors that impede these objectives.

According to Minister Mushikiwabo, “the main challenge is the convergence of various interests in the DRC and the historical bagage constraints but regardless of the difficulties, we, especially as immediate neighbours, are going to do whatever it takes to find a way to stabilise the region regardless of the difficulties because DRC is right next to us.”

Meanwhile, the United States has expressed keen interest in implementation of the Framework.

“The US’s interest is very welcome. I had the opportunity to speak to United States Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, Russ Feingold, and we agreed to work closely. We also agreed on moving beyond resolutions and documents and see some real progress on the ground. This includes pacifying the Kivu region and quickly getting to the better solutions for the communities,” said Mushikiwabo.

Although efforts are underway to ensure stability mainly in the DRC, violence continues to escalate.

The latest surge in violence culminated recently with a fight between the DRC government forces and the M23 rebel group.  In March, about 700 rebel fighters led by ex-political leader Jean-Marie Runiga fled into Rwanda following the fierce fighting between two DR Congo rebel factions of M23.

The recent violence has resulted into the United Nations and the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) reconsidering their relations with President Joseph Kabila’s government following the army’s desecrating of corpses belonging to rebel fighters.

Reports have also emerged, that the DRC government forces are fighting alongside militiamen of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terror group composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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