UN-mediated deal signed by African leaders


African leaders signed a UN-mediated deal yesterday aimed at ending two decades of conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and paving the way for the deployment of a new military brigade to take on rebel groups.

Congo’s army is fighting the M23 rebels, who have hived off a fiefdom in North Kivu province in a conflict that has dragged Congo’s eastern region back into war and displaced more than half a million people.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who witnessed the signing in Ethiopia, said he hoped the accord would bring “an era of peace and stability” for Congo and Africa’s Great Lakes. The Great Lakes area, where colonial era borders cut through ethnic groups, has in the last 20 years been a crucible of conflict that launched multiple uprisings.

The agreement was signed by leaders and envoys of 11 African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, which have been accused by UN experts of stoking the rebellion. They deny the accusation.

Congolese president Joseph Kabila said the talks with rebels would continue, but there was little time left before a March 15th deadline to complete them.

– (Reuters)