African leaders sign peace deal over DR Congo

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African leaders of Eleven countries in the Great Lakes region, backed by UN, have signed a deal to bring peace to the war-torn east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The deal envisages reinforcing a UN-led mission to combat rebels, mainly Tutsi M23 rebels,who UN investigators say are backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Neighbouring states have regularly beenaccused of meddling in the eastern DR Congo, with the illegal extraction of its valuable minerals one of theirmotivations. DR Congo's mineral-rich east has been ravaged by conflict involving numerous armed groupsfor the past two decades, with new rebel movements rising on regular basis. The latest surge in violence erupted lastyear and culminated in the rebel March 23 movement (M23) - made up of largely Tutsi former soldiers -briefly seizing the key town of Goma in November 2012.

The accord aims to encourage the reform of weak institutions in the DRC, central Africa's largest nation, and calls for countries in the region to stop interfering in each others affairs as well as expects DRC's neighbours to respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by preventing external support to armed groups. The accord also provides for changes to the UN's 17,000-strong MONUSCO peacekeeping mission. That may lead to creation of a special UN "intervention brigade" to fight rebel groups and support political reforms, and the appointment of a UN special envoy.

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