News / Africa

Advocacy Groups Welcome New US Great Lakes Envoy

FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
James Butty
Nineteen advocacy groups and Congo experts are giving the thumps up to President Barack Obama’s appointment of former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold as the new U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Feingold is a former chairman of the Africa Subcommittee in the Senate and co-author of several legislations on the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the crisis in the DRC.

His appointment comes on the heels of the signing of a peace framework by Great Lakes Region countries and the dispatch of a UN intervention brigade composed of African troops.

Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy analyst for the Enough Project, a U.S.-based advocacy group, said advocacy groups have sent an open letter to Mr. Feingold urging him to use leverage and incentives to focus on the many concerns in the DRC.

“We warmly welcome Senator Feingold as the new Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region. By appointing Senator Feingold, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama are sending strong signals to the people in eastern Congo and in fact that they deem Congo to be a priority and ending this war to be an important part of the administration’s strategy in Africa,” he said.
Butty interview with Sasha
Butty interview with Sashai
|| 0:00:00

 In their open letter to Senator Feingold, the 19 advocacy groups called on him to focus on democratic reforms in the Congo, and to ensure peace between the DRC and its neighbors.

“We are calling on Senator Feingold to focus on two main areas to help enable peace in the region. First of all, to make sure to hold the Congolese government accountable for meaningful democratization reforms. The government needs to hold provincial and local elections which are long, long overdue. Number two, there needs to be a very serious reform of the Congolese army,” Lezhnev said.

They called for expanding assistance to build democratic and effective political parties, as well as strengthen legislative capacity.

The groups also called on the US to use “carrots and sticks” to advance cooperation between and the DRC and its neighbors, including the use of sanctions and restriction of financial support.

“The US is the largest shareholder in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. So it can use it to help incentivize progress in the peace process. Number two, the US gives various forms of military aid which it can put on and take off the table if necessary; and the US has a sanctions region. So if any official or smugglers are found to be enabling armed groups they should be sanctioned,” Lezhnev said.

An estimated 5.4 million people have died since 1996 in the DRC conflicts. In their open letter to the new US Special Envoy, the advocacy groups expressed their support for establishment of specific benchmarks for progress, noting shortcomings in past international peace efforts.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs