Thank you all for attending this important meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism.
I am especially grateful to my co-chair, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. She and the AU Commission have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.
I commend President Museveni for his eminent leadership during the past two years as Chair of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), especially for his successful mediation efforts during the Kampala Dialogue. I also wish to thank President Dos Santos for having assumed the Chair of the ICGLR earlier this month. We are already encouraged by the efforts that he is undertaking to promote peace, reconciliation and regional cooperation. I know that the UN Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, look forward to working closely with him.
It has been almost a year since you gathered here in Addis Ababa to sign this agreement. I welcome the new signatories Kenya and Sudan to the Framework.
Today we have the opportunity to reflect on what was achieved during the last year and look ahead to future challenges.
The conclusion of the Kampala Dialogue, after twelve months of challenging negotiations, was an important milestone – and again I thank President Museveni for his determined diplomatic efforts.
Now the provisions agreed upon in the Dialogue must be urgently implemented. It will be critical to swiftly adopt an amnesty law, launch a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. M23 fighters from the neighbouring countries should also be repatriated.
The military developments on the ground have prompted many members of armed groups, primarily M23, to surrender. The FARDC, supported by MONUSCO, have also begun operations against other armed groups, notably the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). These are important and positive developments.
At the same time, the answer to instability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot be purely military. We must pursue a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of the violence.
To this end, the effective and sustainable extension of State authority to the areas retaken from armed groups is an urgent priority. Thorough reforms must be carried out in the security sector and other key areas, if we are to tackle the causes of instability and conflict.
At the regional level, I invite you, the signatories, to renew your commitment to the Framework and accelerate the implementation of all commitments. In the past, too many agreements were signed but not honoured.
The Action Plan’s priority projects contain concrete steps for taking the process forward. We now need a collective effort to promote dialogue and build trust among the leaders of the region.
I commend the work to advance regional economic integration, which is key to long-term peace and prosperity in the Great Lakes region. The joint visit to the region by the UN Secretary-General, the President of the World Bank, the Chair of the AU Commission, the President of the African Development Bank and the EU Commissioner for Development, in May of last year, solidly demonstrates the nexus between peace and development.
I welcome the recent launch of the Great Lakes Women’s Platform, just days ago, here in Addis Ababa. I commend, as well, Special Envoy Robinson’s plans to host, together with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, a private sector investment forum later this year. These initiatives hold great promise. These are key aspects of the Framework.
In closing, I am encouraged by the strong and responsible leadership that you have demonstrated, both individually and collectively, since the Framework was signed.
Let us continue to stand together so that the Framework can keep its promise of making a lasting difference in the lives of the peoples of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region as a whole.
I thank you for your attention.