President Ramaphosa alarmed over conflict, violence in eastern DRC

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he concerned that the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region remain mired in conflict and violence, driven by armed groups that it is well-established are both Congolese and foreign.

“The resurgence of the M23, an armed group that was thought to have been dismantled in 2013/2014, is even more worrying,” the President said on Saturday.

President Ramaphosa was speaking in Bunjumbura, Burundi, where he was participating in the 11th High Level Segment of the Regional Oversight Mechanism (ROM) of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region.

“The current security situation in the eastern DRC requires our urgent attention. Over the past year a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded before our eyes.”

To date, President Ramaphosa, said more than 800 000 people have been displaced by the conflict.

“We cannot but be moved by their plight, and by the gross violations of human rights that are taking place. We cannot but be outraged at the scale of violence being perpetrated against women and girls, and by the blatant disregard of the provisions of international humanitarian law.”

This year marks 10 years since the PSC Framework was signed in 2013.

“At the time, hopes were high that the signing of the framework would usher in peace, security, stability and development for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region. Unfortunately, a decade later, these noble goals have not been achieved.”

The President believes that actionable decisions need to be taken to address the shortcomings emanating from the framework not being implemented.

“It is critical that all parties to the framework demonstrate the highest political will, and reaffirm their commitment to its successfully implementation.”

He said South Africa fully supports the revitalisation efforts of the PSC Framework to respond to the current evolving challenges.

The focus, according to the President, should address the root causes of the conflict and drivers of violent conflicts in the region and develop a comprehensive strategy to combat the illegal exploitation of mineral resources, corruption, money laundering, and transnational organised crime.

He also called for investment in building the institutional capacity of border management and control and the United Nations system to continue to provide capacity and technical assistance for state institutions to maintain standards of accountability with respect to gender-based violence and to strengthen legal frameworks.

In addition, he said countries in the region should accelerate developmental initiatives that address poverty, unemployment, and inequality.

“It is critical that there is harmonisation between the various initiatives aimed at addressing the situation in the DRC and the region. The PSC Framework should be the focal point all our efforts.”

He commended all the role players, facilitators and the East African Community for the deployment of the regional force.

“As we meet here today, we are painfully aware of the impact of another deadly conflict brewing on our continent.”

The President took the opportunity to also reiterate South Africa’s position on the unfolding crisis in Sudan.

“We call upon the warring armed forces to put down their weapons for the sake of preserving human life, and to begin dialogue and negotiations without delay.

“We further call on the Sudanese authorities to swiftly work towards the restoration of civilian-led government in line with the Political Framework Agreement signed in December last year.”

He told delegates that he hopes the second decade of existence of the PSC Framework will “breathe new life” into its implementation.

“We owe it to both current and future generations to give effect to the aspiration of Silencing the Guns across Africa.”

Source: South African Government News Agency