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Ban to attend DR Congo peace deal

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent out invitations to a signing ceremony later this month for the large-scale peace agreement aimed at ending the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations has said.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN chief will attend the February 24 event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The peace agreement had been expected to be signed at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 28 but was delayed over what Mr Ban called "procedural issues" and not over any fundamental differences in the agreement.

Mr Nesirky said the agreement has been circulated to 11 countries including DR Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique.

The peace deal is an effort at a large-scale political framework to end violence in DR Congo. Separate talks are taking place in Uganda between the rebel group known as M23 and Congolese officials.

Jean Baptiste Rudaseswa, a lawyer for M23, has said the plan could further destabilise Congo.

Mineral-rich eastern DR Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The United Nations has more than 17,700 UN peacekeepers and over 1,400 international police in the region, but they did little to protect civilians as M23 rebels swept through eastern Congo last year and seized the key city of Goma.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said earlier this month that there is growing agreement on the need to create an "intervention brigade", which would be part of the UN force, and give it a mandate to rein in, neutralise and disarm rebel groups in the east.

Mr Ladsous said the agreement will spell out what DR Congo must do to reform the security sector and army and reassert its authority in the east. It will also include commitments by countries of the region to respect each other's sovereignty and cooperate to address the underlying causes of the recurring violence in the east, including the presence of numerous armed groups.


From Belfast Telegraph