KINSHASA (AFP) – The new UN special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, former Irish president Mary Robinson, said Monday that a recent 11-nation regional peace agreement was a “framework of hope” and vowed to help build the trust needed to ensure it is implemented.
Robinson assumed the special envoy post last month and has been tasked with leading political efforts to bring an end to more than two decades of conflict in the region.
She began her first trip to the region in the DR Congo capital Kinshasha, and the week-long visit will also take her to Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa, wrapping up with a visit to the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia.
In February, 11 African countries signed a UN-brokered accord in a bid to end more than two decades of conflict in the DR Congo’s mineral-rich east, which has been a haven for armed groups who have left a trail of bloodshed and raped tens of thousands of women.
Robinson said the agreement offered renewed hope and a new opportunity to resolve the conflict and its causes.
“That is why I call it a framework of hope, and I hope it will be implemented in that spirit of progress moving forward for the peoples of the region,” she said in remarks to the press.
Robinson met Monday with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, leaders of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO) and civil society organisations including women’s groups and religious leaders.
Robinson was president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.