Efforts for peace continue to be made in the Congo. On the 23rd of November in Luanda, a peace conference was held in an attempt to solve the crisis ongoing in DRC’s east. At quick glance it may look like the conference, and the subsequent conference held in Nairobi on November 28th, was successful. They managed to establish a ceasefire, demand rebel groups disarm (with legitimate deadlines to do so), and have Rwanda and DRC sit in the same room when tensions between the two could lead to war.
There are still benefits to these conferences, of course, but they unfortunately made one crucial mistake.
« Normally when there is a ceasefire it is between the two warring sides,« -Lawrence Kanyuka, Spokesman of the M23 movement.
Neither summit saw any presence from the M23, one of the primary rebel groups in the DRC. The conferences meant to establish a ceasefire and also force the M23 to withdraw from the territory they took. While the M23 said they would observe the ceasefire, they announced no intent to withdraw. They also said they expect the government will not maintain any ceasefire, and that they will not hesitate to defend both themselves and « civilians ». They pointed out a similar ceasefire was established in April, which they claim the government broke.
« M23 has seen the document on social media… There was nobody in the summit (from M23) so it doesn’t really concern us, » – Lawrence Kanyuka, in reference to the fact that the M23 found out about the ceasefire through social media.
The M23 has called for direct dialogue with the government, to which the government has refused.
« Do not think that when the Superior Defense Council recommended to the government to consider the M23 as a terrorist movement, it was perhaps out of hatred exaggerated by an excess of anger, No. It won’t happen. I can reassure you on behalf of the government and the President. » – DRC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Christophe Lutundula.
The government considers M23 a terrorist group and will not hold talks with them.
The DRC government has long accused Rwanda of supporting M23. Rwanda, of course, denies this and in turn accuses the DRC of supporting/working alongside the FDLR (which they also deny), another rebel group in the DRC’s east that was formed primarily by former génocidaires from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Due to the groups anti-Rwandan stance, they have also been a hot topic in discussions between Rwanda and DRC.
« FDLR-FOCA, RED-TABARA, ADF, and other armed groups operating on Congolese territory shall immediately lay down their arms and initiate their unconditional repatriation. » – Text from the Luanda peace summit.
They were given a deadline of November 30th to disarm, and it would appear no such disarmament has occurred. So realistically, each armed group is still the same as they were before the conferences.
Ironically, a confidential UN report released solely to Reuters in August claimed that the M23 is indeed supported by Rwanda, and the FDLR is indeed supported by DRC. Since the report is confidential it is difficult to gauge the validity of these claims, but it reportedly has photos of Rwandan troops inside DRC.
-Written by Sébastien G of GoodHistory.