Peace accord signed in Congo

Updated 24 February 2013
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Peace accord signed in Congo

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Eleven African countries signed a United Nations-drafted peace deal yesterday to stabilize the troubled Central African country of Congo, where rebels allegedly backed by neighboring countries last year threatened to oust the government.
Opening the agreement-signing meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said peace, security and cooperation framework for Congo would bring stability to the region.
“The signing ceremony is a significant even in itself. But it is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement. The framework before you outlines commitments and oversight mechanisms which aim at addressing key national and regional issues,” Ban said in his speech.
Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Angola, Uganda, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, and the Republic of Congo signed the accord.
Congo’s neighbors collectively promised to not interfere in the internal affairs of the Congo. They also agreed to not tolerate or support armed groups. A UN report last year said that Rwanda and Uganda helped aid M23 rebels inside Congo. The two countries denied the allegations.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was present at the signing and said the agreement is a new opportunity for Congo.
“The framework recognizes that a holistic approach that addresses the multifaceted root causes is the only way to end instability. Any meaningful contribution toward lasting peace in the DRC and the Great Lake’s region has to abandon the self-defeating practice of selectivity in both memory and responsibility regarding the known, long standing causes of recurring conflict,” said Kagame.
The UN says Congo suffers from persistent violence by both local and foreign armed groups that use rape as a weapon. The conflict has displaced nearly 2 million people. The UN said it will undertake a review of the its peacekeeping force in Congo, known as MONUSCO, to better help the country’s government address security challenges. Ban said he would issue a special report on Congo and the Great Lakes region in coming days.
South African President Jacob Zuma welcomed the proposal to send more troops to Congo. But he said Congo’s government needs to undertake “far-reaching reforms” for a lasting solution.
“A heavy burden of responsibility falls on the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbors. Theirs is the historic task of freeing the people of the DRC and the region from tortuous history of conflict and instability, and to introduce a new future offering democracy, peace, stability progress and prosperity,” said Zuma.
Under the new agreement the Congolese government agreed to fast-track security sector reform, particularly within its army and police, and to consolidate state authority in eastern parts of the country. It pledged to prevent armed groups from destabilizing neighboring countries.
Congo President Joseph Kabila also vowed to advance decentralization and expand social services across the nation. The deal calls for Kabila to soon put in place a national oversight mechanism in order to oversee the implementations of the commitments. The UN, AU, African Development Bank and other international groups have agreed to support the effort.
An agreement signing was canceled last month at the margins of the African Union summit at the last minute, and Ban at the time blamed “procedural issues” for the delay. Ban on Sunday proposed that the leaders should meet twice a year, at the margins of the AU and UN summits, to review the deal’s progress.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 5 min 27 sec ago
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”