UN Secretary General Ban Says Congo Has Best Chance for Peace

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Democratic Republic of Congo has the “best chance” to stop further conflict in the east provided its government and regional actors fulfill a commitment to peace.

The government of Congo in February signed an agreement with 10 other African nations, regional bodies and the UN to bring stability to the conflict-ridden region.

It represents “the best chance for peace in many years” for eastern Congo, Ban said today in Kigali, the capital of neighboring Rwanda. “All parties should live up to their responsibilities and success will be attained.”

Ban’s trip coincides with an outbreak of fighting this week outside of Goma, the trading hub of eastern Congo, with clashes between rebels from the M23 group and government soldiers. In November, the fighters controlled the city for about 11 days before withdrawing under international pressure.

Ban arrived in Congo on May 22 along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim who announced $1 billion of new funding for the African Great Lakes region to boost trade, expand the road network and construct power-generation plants. They are also due to visit Uganda during the trip.

Rwanda and Uganda have been accused by UN experts of supporting the rebels in eastern Congo, where there are deposits of tin ore, gold, tungsten and coltan, a mineral used in laptops and mobile phones. They both deny the charges.

Strengthened Mandate

The UN is deploying a new brigade of African troops with a strengthened mandate to attack M23 rebels and other armed groups in eastern Congo, joining a peacekeeping force already there.

Ban called leaders in the region to honor this year’s peace accord including Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Rwanda is a signatory to the accord and it has a seat on the UN Security Council.

“Rwanda is critical to the framework’s substance,” Ban said. “I am appealing to all leaders to play their part in implementing and reaching their commitments.”

Eastern Congo has been plagued by fighting since the perpetrators of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide fled over the border to Congo along with millions of refugees.

Two wars followed, in which soldiers from at least seven African countries fought on Congolese soil. A peace agreement was signed in 2003, though more than a dozen foreign and Congolese rebel groups remain in the country’s east.

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