Editorial: Vital forces

THE Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo which President Jacob Zuma and other regional leaders signed in Addis Ababa on Sunday is the latest of many international attempts to resolve the crisis in the east of the DRC.

The framework agreement commits the DRC to efficient and democratic government and to extending control over all of its territory. It commits its neighbours to stop meddling in the DRC’s internal affairs, as Rwanda, in particular, has been doing for years. And it commits the international community to supporting these efforts.

The most important of the international commitments is alluded to only indirectly in the framework. That is a proposal to establish a military force, led and commanded by countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to intervene in the eastern DRC. It will have a robust mandate to pacify the many armed rebel groups which terrorise and destabilise the region – especially the M23 group which threatens to overrun whole provinces.

If the UN Security Council agrees, this force will probably be part of the UN peacekeeping force Monusco, but will be able to take on the rebels directly, which Monusco’s mandate does not allow it to do.

South Africa will participate in this intervention force, though just how is still to be decided. It will be a dangerous mission, fighting battle-hardened rebels on their home ground.

This intervention force is the most important difference between this and previous, failed, efforts to stabilise the area.

The other significant difference is that the framework includes mechanisms to monitor adherence by the various signatories to their commitments. One vital flaw, though, is that the DRC government will monitor itself. The international community should never have allowed Kinshasa to judge its own performance.


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