A consortium of women's development and human rights groups of South Kivu Province has made an impassioned plea to all stakeholders in the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to resolve their differences and to channel their efforts into establishing a peaceful and stable nation.
At the end of a meeting held from 18 to 21 October in Bukavu, the group, called the Societe Civile, issued a list of specific recommendations to the United Nations Security Council and the international community, the government of the DRC, the Rwandan-backed rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma), the Mayi-Mayi militias and the citizens of the DRC.
It called on the Security Council and international community to:
- ensure implementation of the 30 July 2002 Pretoria peace agreement between the DRC and neighbouring Rwanda, with particular attention to be paid to the alleged redeployment of Rwandan forces in the Kivu provinces;
- support the resumption of the inter-Congolese dialogue, with a view to establishing a transitional government in a process leading to national elections;
- take all necessary steps to end arms trafficking in the Great Lakes Region; and
- ensure the safety of civilian populations threatened by RCD-Goma and Rwanda.
It called on the government of the DRC to:
- work towards the rapid reunification of the country and the re-establishment of a national administration;
- support "authentic" Mayi-Mayi militias in their defence of the integrity of the national territory; and
- demand that the international community support the protection of civilian populations against armed aggression.
It called on RCD-Goma to:
- stop resorting to foreign forces to resolve the DRC's problems;
- agree to live at peace with the Mayi-Mayi militias; and
- disassociate itself from "Rwandan and Burundian aggressors" out of consideration for the prevailing aspirations of the Congolese people.
It called on the Mayi-Mayi militias to:
- maintain their resolve to fight against foreign aggression in defence of national territorial integrity;
- coordinate the peaceful coexistence of their various forces and to prohibit all human rights abuses; and
- contribute actively to the process of disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR) process of combatants.
And it called on the Congolese people to:
- ignore the divisive propaganda of RCD-Goma;
- denounce the return of Rwandan forces to the DRC; and
- support the DDRRR process and the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan and Burundian refugees.
A local analyst told IRIN that the Societe Civile organisation had been "a thorn in the side of the Rwanda-created RCD administration, because the RCD have been unable to control it and haven't dared to suppress it".
The analyst added, "You can take this declaration as representing [the views of] a significant section of the population here."