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US diplomat urges world to back DRCongo peace plan

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The outgoing top US diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, called Monday for world leaders to back an international peace plan to end the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Clearly, a sophisticated and internationally backed solution is the only way forward," Carson said, highlighting how the international community had come together to back the Dayton Accords that ended the war in the former Yugoslavia in 1995.

He also pointed to the model of Sudan, telling The Brookings Institution think-tank that "a similarly energetic and international effort is now required for the DRC."

The United Nations said last week it was seeking to revive a peace accord African leaders refused to sign last month that would allow a UN intervention brigade to operate in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Under the deal, the UN would deploy a 2,500-strong "intervention brigade" in eastern DR Congo.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said it would have a mandate to stop armed groups gaining new territory, "neutralize" and "disarm" them, unlike traditional peacekeeping forces.

Talks are also being held in Uganda between DRC leaders and so-called M23 rebels in the latest bid to end an eastern DRC conflict that erupted in April and has forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Carson called on the DRC, its neighbors Rwanda and Uganda and other countries in the region to sign and implement a UN framework agreement as soon as possible.

Then the international community needs "to put flesh on the bones of the agreement by establishing a comprehensive peace process around the agreement's principles," he said.

The US supports appointing a UN envoy for the region, as well as having the "intervention brigade" be integrated with the existing UN-controlled peacekeeping force MONUSCO, which has about 17,000 troops, Carson said.

He also called on DRC leaders to make good on promises of reform.

"If we are serious, international assistance should be conditioned on the DRC government making further reform progress," Carson added.

Millions have died in the past two decades in wars, civil wars and militia strife in the Great Lakes region.

The presidents of DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Burundi, Republic of Congo, South Africa and Tanzania had been expected to back the UN deal last month, but it fell through at the last minute when some African nations refused to sign it.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130211/us-diplomat-urges-world-back-drcongo-peace-plan