A PEACE agreement, backed by the United Nations, in the
Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been welcomed by African
leaders and aid agencies, but they warned that it was "only the
Just hours after the peace agreement was signed on Sunday,
splits in the M23 rebel group, which has been fighting the
Congolese government, led to clashes, and up to eight civilian
The peace deal was signed in the presence of the UN
secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis
Ababa. Mr Ban said that he hoped that it would bring "an era of
peace and stability" to the region.
Up to 800,000 people have been displaced since the M23 rebel
group took up arms against the Congolese government in May last
year. "It is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that
will require sustained engagement," Mr Ban said.
The agreement could lead to the establishment of a UN
intervention force in eastern Congo.
Fighting in the DRC since 1998 has led to the deaths of 5.4
million people from disease, malnutrition, and murder - making it
the most devastating conflict since the Second World War.
Leaders from Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, the
DRC, the Republic of Congo, and South Sudan attended the signing of
the peace agreement.
Christian Aid's policy and advocacy adviser for Central Africa,
Chantal Daniels, said that the agreement was a "promising first
step". She said, however: "A lot needs to happen to make this
ambitious framework a reality on the ground. Just signing the
agreement isn't enough; it needs to be properly implemented and
enforced as well."
She said that the agreement went "far beyond" tackling only the
symptoms of poor government, and pledged to work to end foreign
backing of rebel groups, and to reform the army and the police, and
legal and electoral systems.
"It also recognises that primary responsibility for
implementation of the agreement lies with the DRC government and
regional states and organisations," she said; "but [it] also needs
strong political backing from countries such as the UK, as well as
financial support for reforms.
"Measures linked to the implementation of the framework, such as
the appointment of a high-profile UN special envoy with the power
to mediate on both a domestic and regional level, the inclusion of
Congolese civil society, and the tying of donor aid to clear and
agreed benchmarks are key issues that need to be addressed in order
for the agreement to lead to long-term peace, security, and
stabilisation in the DRC and the region."