Warring parties in eastern DR Congo should stop hostilities and give priority to peace talks, Parliamentarians from the Great Lakes Region have said.
The lawmakers are meeting in Kigali for a two-day 7th Ordinary Session of the Executive Committee of the Forum of Parliaments for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (FP-ICGLR).
Yesterday, members of the Committee gave presentations and debated on the security and political situation in ICGLR member countries, with focus on conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan.
The need to quell the latest bout of clashes in eastern DRC took centre stage at the discussions with a Congolese delegate asking for a minute of silence to pay respect to victims of the violence along with other sufferers of armed conflicts in other ICGLR member states. Most legislators called for talks between the warring parties in eastern DRC.
“We invite all parties involved to give dialogue a chance,” said DRC’s Senator Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, who also heads FP-ICGLR’s Executive Committee.
Senator Kisanga is also the Deputy Rapporteur of the Congolese Senate.
He urged member states in the ICGLR to remain loyal to all the peace pacts that were signed in relation to preserving peace in regional countries, including his troubled country.
On the renewed clashes in eastern DRC between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, Kisanga called for immediate resumption of peace talks in the Ugandan capital, Kampala between the rebels and the Kinshasa government.
“There will never be a military solution to this crisis,” he said in an interview with journalists shortly after addressing the parliamentary session.
Latest fighting between M23 rebels and the Congolese army, allegedly backed by FDLR militia, have seen thousands of refugees cross into Rwanda over the last few days and two mortar bombs fired from DRC into Rwanda’s Rubavu District.
The president of the Rwandan Senate, Dr Jean Damascène Ntawukuriryayo, called upon legislators in member states of the ICGLR to spread the message across the countries that solutions for all political and security issues in the region will come from regional leaders themselves.
He criticised so-called international experts ‘for spreading rumours’ in reports accusing countries like Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels in the DRC, while Kigali remained active in regional peace efforts.
Political, not military
“Rwanda should be considered part of the solution and not as part of the problem,” he said. “We have to work to achieve a political solution because a military solution will never work.”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, in an interview with this paper last week noted that Rwanda had registered progress in implementing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, which was signed in Addis Ababa in February this year.
The accord seeks a complete restoration of peace in the region, mainly in the eastern DRC.
Rwanda received refugees and disarmed them, collaborated with the US in sending Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and participated in the technical committee meetings establishing the evaluation mechanism of the Framework as part of implemention of the Framework, Mushikiwabo said.
A UN Security Council Debate on Supporting the Great Lakes Framework’ is scheduled for today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where Mushikiwabo is expected to make a presentation on what Rwanda has done towards the implementation of the Framework.
Under the FP-ICGLR, which remains the main inter-parliamentary organisation of African Parliaments in the Great Lakes Region, members discuss regional security and the prevention and management in the region.