Eleven African countries have signed a deal in Addis Ababa aimed at bringing peace to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Analysts believe the agreement could make a difference.
The eleven countries, which include the DRC itself, have pledged not to intervene in conflicts in neighboring countries and to refrain from supporting rebel groups. While UN chief Ban Ki Moon was watching, representatives from the DRC, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia signed the agreement. As part of the deal, the United Nations plans to deploy several thousand additional peacekeepers to the DRC.
DW: What kind of mandate should the new intervention brigade have, and how should it differ from MONUSCO's?
David Zounmennou: I think that's the kind of question on everybody's mind. Whatever mandate the UN Security Council might craft, it will be different from the one given to MONUSCO. That mission is considered a fiasco in the eastern DRC for its inability to keep the peace and control the rebel groups. I think the UN is really thinking of a mandate that will allow the 2500 additional troops to use force to impose peace and also to track and hunt down the rebels associated with the M23 and other groups.
The M23 are not party to this agreement. Isn't this a serious flaw?
I think it's important to note that the UN wants to paint a bigger picture by insisting on those that are providing support to the M23. Many international actors are aware that the M23 was created by regional partners. That's why the agreement made specific provisions and called on regional actors to refrain from providing support. To waive any support means the M23 will remain an empty shell without much influence on the security architecture in eastern DRC. But not involving the political side of M23 into the agreement can also be a sign of weakness that can compromise the effective implementation of this framework.
There are some 40 rebels groups in the DRC, how are they going to be involved in this deal?
I think that's why the M23 is not featuring in the agreement. If you put the M23 in, you will have to call all the other groups and accommodate them in a peace deal. What is important is to create an environment that will make it impossible for those groups to continuously pose a security challenge to the state or to the region. That's why the UN mission is certainly going to be given the mandate to fight. Once those security challenges are removed, they will certainly respond.
What do you make of the accord that the 11 countries have signed. Is this the start of a workable peace process?
Certainly, because it involves all regional actors to make sure that this agreement is going to be enforced. Many believe that this is the beginning of a return to peace in the region. However, no peace will prevail in the DRC if there's no political will to take the provisions of the agreement seriously and to implement them effectively. I think it is very important that the root causes of the problem and the economic concerns are addressed at bilateral and multilateral level.
So peace is now within reach in the DRC?
We can say so and I think many people including political activists have realized the importance of working towards sustainable peace in eastern DRC, because no one will be spared if rebel groups continue to mushroom in the region. They can pose a challenge to the DRC as well as to other countries that share a border with it.
David Zounmenou is a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa.
Interview: Mark Caldwell