Four of the main armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including militias as fearsome as the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO), have agreed to a ceasefire in the province of Iturione of the greats epicenters of violence in the northeast of the country, after several days of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.
Together with CODECO they have signed the “commitment” agreement on Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front (FRPI), the Congolese Patriotic and Integrationist Front (FPIC) and the Ituri People’s Self Defense Movement (MAPI), four armed groups that accumulate thousands of deaths behind them in a region historically marked by conflict between farmers of the Lendu ethnic group and Hema herders who have ended up resolving their differences through the armed conflict, confrontations against the Army and campaigns of terror against the local population.
The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has hailed the document as “a great step forward” for the four signatory groups and has encouraged the rest of the militias to follow suit and “lay down their arms”
Dialogue with the bands
At the end of last month, Johnny Luboyathe military officer for the Ituri region, has advanced that the security situation in the province has opened a round of dialogues between their forces and local leaders, where they acted as intermediaries with the militias in the midst of the state of emergency declared in the province in 2021.
The final phase of the negotiations is expected to conclude this week in the rural municipality of Aru, 300 kilometers from Bunia, the provincial capital. With a three-day meeting, between the leaders of the militias, local authorities and representatives of civil society, and ratified in a ceremony announced the next day by the official Congolese news agency ACP.
Troop leaders have signed this commitment agreement to facilitate the transit of goods and development in one of the most deteriorated provinces of the African country, along with neighboring North Kivu, also under a government of military exceptionality.
The #MONUSCO Salute the agreement concluded by 4 armed groups in Ituri to cease the hostilities and violence against civil populations.
This engagement constitutes a grand pas en avant.
MONUSCO encourages all armed groups to déposer les armes. pic.twitter.com/EL5E6hZ1ak
— MONUSCO (@MONUSCO) June 2, 2023
Under the agreement, reported by Radio Okapi, the four militias agree to cease hostilities against the Army frozen as well as attacks against the civilian populationand “promote the return of displaced persons and refugees to their places of origin”, in addition to not carry weapons nor any military indication and no longer give in to “all influence, manipulation aimed at disrupting peace, security and social cohesion in Ituri”
The rest of the signatories also undertake to “materialize” the so-called Disarmament, Demobilization, Stabilization and Community Recovery Program to guarantee the reinstatement of the militiamen in civil society and to take the necessary measures so that the violence is not reproduced at the community level.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism