A girl holds a hand of a M23 rebel fighter as the rebels prepare for withdrawal from Karuba, about 62 km west of Goma.

Addis Ababa - A peace, security and co-operation framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo does not provide all the answers to the problems in the region, but is an instrument to help it find a way out of its morass, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.

“Its success will depend on the commitment and ultimately the concrete actions taken by all the parties to it, to interpret and implement it to its fullest noble intention,” Zuma said at the signing of the framework in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Zuma welcomed the inclusion in the framework of benchmarks and follow-up mechanisms, and said this would facilitate a common understanding of the actions required by all parties.

He said the partnership needed to go beyond co-operation within the context of the envisaged regional oversight mechanism.

There had to be coherence in initiatives in the region, with the intention of supporting the DRC and its neighbours in a process which would lead to sustained peace and development. He welcomed a proposal to appoint a United Special Envoy to this end.

“We hail the commitment of the international community to walk alongside the DRC and its neighbours on a path of peace, stability, nation-building, reconciliation, mutual understanding and trust, as well as socio-economic development underpinned by political and human freedoms,” said Zuma.

“A heavy burden of responsibility falls on the government of the DRC and its neighbours. Theirs is the historic task of freeing the people of the DRC and the region from its tortuous history of conflict and instability, and to introduce a new future offering democracy, peace, stability, progress and prosperity.”

Zuma said South Africa was committed to partnering with the DRC government and people as they responded to the problems of development.

“We will always be ready to work with them on important challenges such as reconciliation, post conflict reconstruction and development, covering such areas as security sector reform, institutional capacity building and economic development.”

South Africa welcomed the intention to strategically review the UN stabilisation mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to strengthen its capacity to support the DRC government, to address security problems and to extend state authority.

“South Africa further welcomes the proposal for an intervention brigade as a realistic option to bring security to the eastern DRC within the shortest time frame and hope that the signing of this framework will hasten the deployment of an appropriate peace enforcement mechanism,” said Zuma.

“We are convinced that a military deployment presents only a short term solution, but that real stability, peace and development requires far-reaching actions from the government of the DRC and its neighbours.”

He said only a comprehensive political solution would form the basis of lasting peace in the eastern DRC, and that all armed groups should, therefore, immediately cease all forms of violence and other destabilising activities, release child soldiers, and permanently lay down their arms.

“South Africa calls on the African Union and the international community to assist the government of the DRC in its process of nation-building to create strong institutions of governance across the public service to safeguard the gains of peace.

“We call on countries of the region to unreservedly commit themselves to this framework and to do what is necessary to make it work.”

Zuma said the DRC lay at the heart of the great continent and “we wish that this heart can beat peacefully, diffusing vitality to the benefit of its people and those of the region and indeed of all of Africa”. - Sapa