Policy Brief: Issues That Must Be On the Table at Eastern Congo's Peace Talks

From Enough blogs Thu Dec 13 2012, 10:06:00

Representatives of the March 23 Movement, or M23, and the government of the Congo have been meeting in Kampala this week as a part of an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR, mediated effort to bring the latest round of fighting to an end. We've seen this political theater many times before. On Sunday, a press conference dissolved into a flurry of accusations. On Monday, representatives for M23 boycotted the negotiations and the government delegation refused to participate in their absence. By Wednesday, the parties were still talking about an agenda. As Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast argued at this week's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the crisis in the Congo, this approach is "already making all of the same mistakes as its predecessor processes, and will likely result in the same kind of short-term deal" that has left Congo in an state of war for almost two decades.

As civilians in eastern Congo continue to suffer life under the control of a rotating cast of armed groups, another flimsy power sharing agreement, which ignores the deep-rooted issues driving the conflict, is not the solution. In a report released today, the Enough Project's Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev and Co-founder John Prendergast suggest an alternate way forward. The second in a three-part-series on Congo's peace process, the report points to the critical political, economic, and security issues that must be put on the table to secure a lasting peace in the region.

Drawing on the lessons of the 2001-2003 inter-Congolese dialogues, the Enough Project has proposed a legitimate, inclusive, and internationally mediated peace process. The report discusses five key political topics that must be addressed as a part of this approach. While noting the need to respect Congo's political sovereignty, the report recommends greater decentralization so that provincial officials are empowered to govern. The report also argues that there is a pressing need for greater minority protections, especially for Congolese Tutsis. Lezhnev and Prendergast push for reforming the national land policy and highlight the need to address refugee repatriation and reintegration. Finally, the report underscores the vital nature of reforms to the political framework, particularly a legitimate plan for local elections ...

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