Justice and Accountability

Report: The Recent Fighting in Eastern Congo and Its Implications for Peace

A new Enough Project infographic and accompanying table reveals how the M23 rebel group and the Congolese national army – currently the two most powerful armed actors in eastern Congo - pursue their interests through a set of relationships with other armed groups.  Read More »

Congo's National Army and M23 Rebel Group, Most Powerful Armed Actors in Eastern Congo

Date: 
Aug 13, 2013
Enough Project Press Release
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Contact: Carine Umuhumuza
 
cumuhumuza@enoughproject.org, 202-478-5314
 
Congo's National Army and M23 Rebel Group, Most Powerful Armed Actors in Eastern Congo
 
GOMA – The M23 rebel group and the Congolese national army – currently the two most powerful armed actors in eastern Congo - pursue their interests through a set of relationships with other armed groups, reveals a new Enough Project infographic and accompanying table. A field dispatch further documents recent clashes between the Congolese military and the M23 rebel group.
 
The infographic illustrates the strength and nature of the relationships between the Congolese army, the M23 rebels and their feuding alliances. The accompanying table provides detailed information about these groups, including their histories, leadership, composition, and other notable features. The research reveals that interaction among groups is often to support economic and political interests, often at the cost of human life.
 
Enough Project Field Researcher Fidel Bafilemba states: 
 
"The number of senior defectors from the Congolese army who now head armed groups and their complex web of relationships only exemplifies the perversity of the Congolese security system, and the genuine political commitment it will require for its reform as Congo aspires to have sustainable peace."
 
The field dispatch, "The Recent Fighting in Eastern Congo and Its Implications for Peace" documents recent clashes between the Congolese military and the M23 rebel group from July 14 – 26, stating that fighting was at the worst it's been since M23 temporarily occupied Goma, eastern Congo last November. The report is based on Enough Project Researcher Timo Mueller’s eyewitness account at the frontlines during the first days of fighting in Mutaho, a few kilometers north of Goma, where fighting was heavy until moving onto M23-held territory.
 
Amid the fighting, talks between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the M23 rebels have stalled in neighboring Uganda. Over the course of the last seven months, the warring parties have employed militaristic bluster, as well as traded fierce accusations of foul play as a means of furthering narrow political agendas. The resumption of fighting on July 14 suggests that the Congolese government has been trying to influence its bargaining position at the talks through military gains on the battlefield. 
 
 Enough Project Field Researcher Timo Mueller states:
 
"If the army could manage to hurt M23 badly enough—short of a military defeat—the movement might be willing to make concessions in Kampala and provide the least politically damaging exit strategy for Rwanda, an alleged supporter of M23. Uganda, on the other hand, could present itself as a successful mediator to the crisis after it was accused last year of supporting M23."
 
As a response to increased fighting, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO, put all of its agencies on high alert, stating that they are prepared to use “lethal force” to protect civilians. Mueller writes: "The latest escalation takes place against a growing militarization of the peacekeeping mission, which later may join the army in fighting M23."
 
The report warns that active, open conflict presents a wide range of problems for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, or U.N. PSCF, as parties continue to trade accusations and delay agreements. Continued violence in the region between M23 and the army has already displaced thousands of civilians, and resulted in the death of civilians, Congolese army soldiers and M23 rebels.
 
Read the field dispatch, “Field Dispatch: The Recent Fighting in Eastern Congo and Its Implications for Peace”: http://www.enoughproject.org/files/FightingEasternCongoImplicationsforPeace.pdf
 
View or download the infographic,“The Networks of Eastern Congo’s Two Most Powerful Armed Actors”: http://enoughproject.org/multimedia/infographic-networks-eastern-congos-two-most-powerful-armed-actors
 
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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.

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Field Dispatch: The Need for a Single Peace Process in Africa's Great Lakes Region

Today, the International Conference on the Great Lakes, or ICGLR, will host a Special Summit of the Great Lakes Region Heads of State and Government.  Read More »

Africa's Great Lakes Region: The Need for a Single Peace Process

Date: 
Jul 31, 2013

Enough Project Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org

+1-202-386-1618

Africa's Great Lakes Region: The Need for a Single Peace Process 

NAIROBI – Ahead of the Special Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR, Heads of State and Government meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on July 31, the Enough Project released a field dispatch, "The Need for a Single Peace Process in Africa’s Great Lakes Region”. The new report focuses on the escalating security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is slated to top the meeting agenda.

The report, written by Enough Project Field Consultant Aaron Hall, is based on research conducted by Enough Project field staff, reporting from the Kampala Peace Talks and the front lines of combat between the Congolese military and M23 rebels in eastern Congo.

Report author Aaron Hall states:

“The current structure for regional peace is flawed, and leaves room for regional actors to manipulate the other ongoing peace processes. International stakeholders and leaders in the Great Lakes region must act together to exercise diplomatic and economic leverage, and to ensure the success of a broader peace process.”

The Enough Project states  that renewed fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebel group, which began on July 14, has amplified tensions in the region and could potentially stall prospects for regional peace processes, currently being brokered through the Kampala Peace Talks, the U.N. Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region, or U.N. PSCF, and through Congo’s national consultations.

The report argues that three political processes complicate efforts to establish a comprehensive peace process, and states that the newly appointed special envoys to the region should push for a single, coordinated peace process under the umbrella of the U.N. Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo, or U.N. PSCF.  A coordinated approach, he writes, will bring key stakeholders, particularly the state of Rwanda, to the table to discuss strategies for creating nonmilitary solutions to ongoing conflicts.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council met to discuss implementation of the 11+4 Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework signed in February. The meeting, chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, signaled a recommitment to ending conflict in Congo, and called for U.N. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Mary Robinson to establish benchmarks and indicators of progress on the Framework. Robinson is set to present benchmarks at the July 31 ICGLR meeting in Nairobi, ahead of the next meeting of the “11+4” oversight mechanism which will formally adopt them on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly high-level debate in New York this September.

Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev states: 

“UN Envoy Mary Robinson deserves praise for her efforts to keep the Great Lakes countries on track with the peace framework. It is now time for her and U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold to follow up with President Kabila on democratization reforms in Congo and to bring together regional leaders to agree on a common strategy to address security threats and take concrete steps toward conflict-free and transparent regional economic integration.”

Read the full report: “Field Dispatch: The Need for a Single Peace Process in Africa’s Great Lakes Region” http://www.enoughproject.org/files/Great-Lakes-Field-Dispatch.pdf

The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.

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Field Dispatch: The Need for a Single Peace Process in Africa's Great Lakes Region

This report is based on recent field research conducted by Enough Project field staff in Uganda, at the site of the Kampala Peace Talks, and on the front lines of combat between the Congolese military and M23 rebels near the area of Mutaho, just north of Goma, North Kivu province. It addresses the escalating security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and calls for a single, coordinated peace process to ensure peace in the region. 

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4 Steps to Defuse Congo Crisis, Prevent Regional Conflict: Enough Project

Date: 
Jul 25, 2013

Enough Project Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org
+1-202-386-1618

4 Steps to Defuse Congo Crisis, Prevent Regional Conflict: Enough Project

GOMA, DR CONGO – In advance of the U.N. Security Council’s special session on Africa’s Great Lakes region, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will chair on July 25, the Enough Project has released a new policy paper, “Four Steps for the U.S. and U.N. to Defuse Congo’s Escalating Crisis: Preventing Wider Conflict.

The co-authors, Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev and Congo Field Researcher Fidel Bafilemba, are currently in Goma, near the front lines of recent clashes between M23 rebels and Congolese government forces in Congo’s mineral-rich eastern region. The latest round of fighting between Congo’s army and the rebel group threatens to derail the peace process.  The report is based on interviews the Enough Project conducted in Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya over the past two weeks while investigating the deteriorating security situation and discussing the way forward with Congolese and regional stakeholders.

Lead author Lezhnev stated:

“Eastern Congo has become a powder keg in the first weeks of the new UN intervention brigade. Unless Secretary Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon work urgently to clarify its mission and strategy with countries in the region, the war could escalate into the kind of disaster we have not witnessed in years.” 

The Enough Project argues that diplomacy is urgently needed to bring the region back from the brink by addressing four key issues: clarifying the role of the U.N. Intervention Brigade to address legitimate Congolese and Rwandan security interests; advancing consultations between the Congolese government and the opposition; keeping Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda on track with their peace process obligations; and accelerating initiatives for regional economic integration.

The U.S. on July 23 called on Rwanda to end any support for M23, citing evidence of involvement by Rwandan military officials. Rwanda denies supporting the rebels, and alleges that the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia founded by participants in Rwanda’s genocide and based in eastern Congo, remains a security threat to Rwanda.

Kerry will preside over the July 25 ministerial meeting in New York to push for implementation of a peace accord signed in February by 11 African nations and four international organizations. The accord aims to end the cycles of conflict and crisis in eastern Congo and to support an effective peace process in Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Co-author Bafilemba stated:  

“Despite the tensions, the February accord represents an opportunity for the parties to cooperatively address root causes of conflict in my country and to spare its eastern part more bloodshed. The most urgent issue is a lack of agreement among countries that signed the February accord, particularly Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and South Africa, about the scope of the U.N. Intervention Brigade’s offensive mandate. The signatories need to agree on which armed groups this brigade will target and how it will go after them. Even if a region-wide shooting war might not yet be imminent, the U.S. and the U.N. must act fast to prevent Congo’s escalating crisis from triggering wider conflict.”

Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast stated:

"A critical part of the solution to the conflict will be effective regional economic integration, something that the UN Security Council meeting can ensure is recognized as an urgent priority.  Cross-border economic projects and transparent mineral certification provide win-win scenarios for all regional parties and create the most powerful incentive for peace and stability.  Such projects must be done transparently and through the rule of law, as secret deals will only lead to corruption, smuggling, and escalating violence." 

The eleven countries who signed the February 24 accord, known as the “11+4” Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework, are Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Angola, Uganda, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Congo-Brazzaville. The four organizations who co-signed are the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. The accord calls for political reforms in Congo, neighbors to refrain from meddling in Congo’s affairs, and the international community to assist Congo to reform.

Read the Enough Project policy paper, “Four Steps for the U.S. and U.N. to Defuse Congo’s Escalating Crisis: Preventing Wider Conflict”: http://www.enoughproject.org/files/FoursSteps-to-Defuse-Congo-Crisis.pdf

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org. 

Four Steps for the U.S. and U.N. to Defuse Congo's Escalating Crisis: Preventing Wider Conflict

The Enough Project has released this policy paper in advance of the July 25, 2013 Ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will preside over the meeting to push for implementation of a peace accord signed in February 2013 by 11 African nations and four international organizations. The aims of the accord are to end the cycles of conflict and crisis in eastern Congo and to support an effective peace process in Africa's Great Lakes region. 

Congolese army soldiers await at frontlines
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