Members of a U.N. Security Council delegation visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo say they have reassuring signs from the government that it wants a positive outcome to talks with M23 rebels in the east.
Kinshasa also expressed its commitment to implementing a regional peace, security and cooperation agreement with its neighbors.
Ambassadors from the 15-nation council met with President Joseph Kabila and a wide array of ministers on Saturday. They also attended the final day of a National Dialogue intended to ease domestic political tensions.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the delegation's discussions with Congolese officials centered on the talks in Kampala, Uganda between the DRC and M23 rebels; commitments made in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the Regional Peace and Security Framework, and internal reforms.
“The message that we heard from everyone was a relatively reassuring one, in that the president and other ministers said that they hoped Kampala talks would conclude very shortly," he said. "And also that they felt they were well advanced, and indeed more advanced than some of the neighboring countries, on fulfilling their commitments under the wider peace framework agreement.”
M23 briefly seized the eastern provincial capital of Goma last year. Since then, the U.N. Stabilization force, MONUSCO, has been beefed up with a 2,500 strong offensive force that is supposed to protect civilians from all armed groups. So far, it has mainly gone after the M23 because the rebels pose a constant threat to the population.
France's deputy ambassador, Alexis Lamek, said Congolese authorities signaled that a political solution is within reach in Kampala.
But a number of issues remain unresolved, including amnesty for certain M23 members and the disarmament, demobilization and possible reintegration into the national army of the group.
On the Great Lakes Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, which was signed in Addis Ababa in February, the U.N. delegation urged the Congolese to keep their commitments. They also recommended that Kinshasa intensify efforts to reform the security sector, consolidate state authority and further reconciliation and democratization.
On Sunday, the delegation travels to the volatile eastern DRC, where it will meet with the governor of North Kivu province, members of civil society and displaced persons.
The delegation will then continue to neighboring Rwanda, which the U.N. has accused of supporting M23 rebels in Congo. The U.N. also says it has proof that Kigali has been systematically recruiting children to serve in the ranks of the M23.