The withdrawal of M23 is not an end in itself, but a means to an end of the conflict

The fact that there seem to be indications of an end to the fighting between FARDC- FDLR and M23 Congolese rebels, thanks to regional efforts, is encouraging. However, the cessation of hostilities should not be taken as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. As the region demands the withdrawal of M23 from territories captured, the process should be consciously managed to bear in mind all the conflict’s precedencies lest we go back to the same position, in no time at all.

Ignorance may lead some into branding the M23 rebels all sorts of negative labels, but the truth remains that the group is fighting for legitimate grievances that were ignored for decades. As the region works out modalities for bringing sustainable peace in eastern DRC, the grievances of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese must take center stage. It should first and foremost be affirmed that the rebels are legitimate Congolese nationals who have been persecuted for decades by successive Congolese regimes. As the M23 is being asked to withdraw, the stakeholders should think critically about what should follow the withdrawal.

The region should endeavor to avoid the mistakes committed in 2013 where the process was taken for granted. The UN intervention opted for a violent solution even after the M23 had already graciously agreed to withdraw from Goma, hoping for a principled political settlement.

For sustainable peace and stability, regional actors must make a thorough diagnosis of the problem and prescribe the right solution. Demands for withdrawal of M23 must go both ways. The Congolese leaders must cease their belligerent attitude and accept dialogue. The question of the FDLR must be treated with the seriousness it deserves because the genocidaire terrorists are the root cause of the woes of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese. Remove FDLR from the equation and you will find that the formula for peace in eastern Congo can be easily worked out.

The regional facilitator must seek a fair settlement between the Congolese government and M23 so that all parties feel like winners at the end of the negotiations. Tshisekedi should accept that Congo is for all Congolese.

The right to nationality is not his to decide upon, but rather natural and God given.

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