Angola asks DR Congo, Rwanda to work towards peace in Eastern DRC

East African Community force soldiers drive in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on Dec. 2, 2022. The military force is one of several diplomatic initiatives launched in an effort to ease tensions in the eastern DRC. [AP Photo]

Angola's history of war with 14 years of armed struggle for national liberation against Portuguese colonialism and 27 years of civil war has contributed to the establishment of a profound sense of peace in the South African Country.

Knowing the heavy consequences of armed conflicts for a society, embodied in the loss of human lives, lack of security, instability and economic downturn, it has decided to bet on the advocacy of peace, promoting dialogue as a way to solve any conflict in the continent.

President Joao Lourenco is currently chairing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region with an aim of promoting peaceful coexistence between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda with the security challenges witnessed in Eastern DRC.

“For nearly three decades, Angola was the victim of armed conflict which is why we understand through lived experience the horrors that the population of Democratic Republic of Congo, a sister country which we share a long border with, are experiencing today,” said Lourenco.

He hosted a summit in Luanda City bringing together South African Development Corporation (SADC) East African Community (EAC) and International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) under the coordination of the African Union and the participation of the United Nations to find the best ways and lasting solutions to security challenges in Eastern DRC.

Lourenco said that in the spirit of solidarity and within the framework of the mandate received from the African Union in May 2022 the republic of Angola has been carrying out a series of initiatives aimed at relaunching the bases of a constructive dialogue and peace between the DRC and Rwanda.

The Angola President said that the objective of defusing the tension between the two neighbouring countries results from the resurgence of the M23 which since the beginning of 2022 has unleashed armed actions and occupied several localities in the Congolese territory.

“It is in this context that the Internal Conference on the Great Lakes Region facilitates dialogue between the parties which among other things has led to the adoption of the Luanda Road Map on the pacification process in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Lourenco.

The Angola President said that the road map establishes a set of commitments to be implemented by the parties in particular the need for the normalization of political and diplomatic relations between DRC and Rwanda including the cessation of hostilities and the immediate withdrawal of positions occupied by the M23.

Lourenco said that the Joint Plan of action for the resolution of the security crisis in the Eastern Region of the DRC was subsequently adopted under which it was agreed to quarter the M23 on Congolese territory  and begin the repatriation of all refugees as well as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.

He said that the Republic of Angola as mediator, committed to deploy a contingent of Angolan Armed Forces to ensure the safety of M23 elements within the cantonment centres and there is need to implement the decisions taken at various summits in order to ensure the credibility and trustworthiness of the process.

“The Luanda summit held on June 3 this year mandated the Foreign Ministers of Angola, DRC, Rwanda and Burundi to meet periodically to jointly asses progress made in implementing the commitments arising from the Luanda Roadmap and the joint plan of Action for the pacification of the Eastern Region of the DRC,” said Lourenco.

The President said within the framework of the deliberation of the summit they will seek to give priority to strengthening the coordination of the comparative advantages that each of the regional economic communities can offer in this process of pacification of the great lakes region.

Lourenco said that the coordinating role of the African Union and the follow up role of the United Nations is fundamental and can contribute towards strengthening the principle of subsidiary with a view to achieving the much sought after pacification of the East DRC.

The Luanda meeting was attended by Comoros President Azzali Assoumani who is the African Union Chairperson, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi,Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Former President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Gabon President Ali Bongo .

African Union Commission Chairperson Mahamat Faki, Namibia Vice President Nangolo  Mbumba, Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta and Ambassador Parfait Onanga representing the United Secretary General Antonio Guterres.