, ADDIS ABABA, Feb 24 – Regional African leaders signed a deal on Sunday aimed at pacifying the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“It is my hope that that the framework will lead to an era of peace and stability for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region,” said UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who was present at the signing ceremony in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“It is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement,” he said.
The agreement could lead to creation of a special UN “intervention brigade” in eastern DR Congo to combat rebel groups as well as new political efforts.
DR Congo’s mineral-rich east has been ravaged by conflict involving numerous armed groups for the past two decades, with new rebel movements spawned on a regular basis, some of them with backing from neighbouring countries.
The latest surge in violence was in 2012 and culminated in the rebel March 23 movement (M23) force briefly seizing the key town of Goma last November.
Leaders or representatives of 11 regional countries signed the document, after a first attempt to get the peace agreement signed last month was called off at the last minute.