Security Council urges all DRC rebel groups to disband and disarm

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The United Nations Security Council has called for the immediate and permanent disarmament and demobilisation of the M23, welcoming an earlier announcement that the rebel group was ending its bloody insurgency against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Peace talks in Uganda towards agreement on a signed document has, to date, failed to materialise between the two sides leading senior UN officials – including the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson – to call for a wrap up to the negotiations with a firm political settlement.

Liu Jieyi of China, which this month holds the Council presidency, said in a statement on behalf of the 15-member body the Council “calls for the swift conclusion and implementation of a final, comprehensive and agreed outcome, in line with the Kampala talks, that provides for the disarmament and demobilisation of the M23 and accountability for human rights abusers”.

The talks are being held in Kampala under the auspices of the Chairperson of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the Mediator, as well as Ugandan Defence Minister and Facilitator, Crispus Kiyonga.

In the Presidential Statement, the Security Council expressed concern regarding the sustained regional threat posed by the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and stressed the importance of neutralising it and all armed groups.

The Council “strongly condemned” continuing violence and abuses of human rights by all armed groups “including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and large scale recruitment and use of children”.

The M23 – composed of soldiers who mutinied from the DRC national army in April – along with other armed groups, has clashed repeatedly with FARDC. In the past year fighting has displaced more than 100 000 people exacerbating an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region which includes 2,6 million internally displaced persons and 6,4 million in need of food and emergency aid.

In the statement, the Council also noted M23’s 19 month rebellion had led to killings of UN peacekeepers in the DRC in the Mission led by Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC and expressed continued support for the blue helmets there.

The Council also encouraged the UN and its partners to strive towards implementation of the Framework signed earlier this year by the DRC along with 10 other countries and four regional and international institutions under UN auspices, outlining a comprehensive approach to sustainable peace in the region.