Pakistan has described as “significant” the announcement by the M23 rebel group that it is ending its bloody insurgency against the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which for nearly two years has exacerbated humanitarian strife in the country’s restive east.
Speaking during the closed-door UN Security Council consultations on the situation in DRC, Ambassador Masood Khan said that the move, prompted by huge military setbacks in the past week, had the potential to change the situation, according to diplomatic sources.
“The job has not finished yet; in fact in certain aspects, it has just begun,” the Pakistani envoy reportedly told the 15-nation Council. “Now the real challenge is to translate these military achievements into long lasting peace in the region,” he said, while suggesting caution in dealing with the situation.
Peace could not be imposed, he said, adding that It must be accepted by all stakeholders. Long-term peace required continued political engagement, even under the changed circumstances.
“National reconciliation and addressing the root causes of conflicts in eastern DRC should remain a priority for the government of the DRC,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Moreover, he said, removing trust deficit amongst the regional countries would help towards timely and faithful implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) framework that all signatories should continue to faithfully implement their commitments.
In tandem with the political process, Masood Khan called for the government of DRC to consolidate its authority in the areas recently taken back from M23. The Security Sector Reforms (SSR) and the capacity building of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) should remain a core priority of the Government of DRC, including the early establishment of the “Rapid Reaction Force” within the FARDC.
He said progress in that area was important both for the exit strategy for the Intervention Brigade, as envisaged in Council resolution 2098, and for the assumption of the primary responsibility of maintaining peace by the government of DRC.
“There is an urgent need to take action against all other armed groups in the eastern DRC, especially FDLR and we hope that the change in the circumstances will allow such an action,” he added.