PN Member Lord McConnell Leads Debate on Recent Developments in DR Congo

November 2012: Fighting between M23 rebels and Congolese Government soldiers forced thousands of people, already displaced by years of fighting to flee their homes again.
July 16, 2013

Last Tuesday, PN Member Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale led a short debate in the House of Lords to pose some questions to the UK Government about the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of a parliamentary delegation from the United Kingdom, he visited both the DR Congo and Rwanda last May. In Burundi, he recently attended the regional conference on women, peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region at the invitation of the new UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson.

Since then, the request for his debate “has become even more timely”, he said as during the last days, there has been renewed fighting in the eastern DR Congo, not just in one area but across much of the region and involving, it appears, many different groups.

“Publicity this week will no doubt focus on the clashes between the M23 and the FARDC—the Congolese army—which now appear to be battling outside Goma, yet again, for control of parts of that area. Fighting appears to have begun at the weekend, involving a group called the ADF, which is at least alleged to be mainly made up of Ugandan-based rebels and which appears to have some links with Islamist extremists from elsewhere in the continent.

There has been a growing trend over recent weeks, which again appears to have been shown over the weekend, for the FDLR—a former Rwandan rebel group—and other smaller groups to use the fact that the main focus appears to be on the M23 around Goma to execute all kinds of attacks on local villages. There have been kidnaps and in some cases rapes and deaths. Yet again today we see an outbreak of accusation and counter-accusation from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwandan Governments, which will no doubt heighten tensions in the area and in the region as a whole.”

Amongst others, Lord McConnell asked for updates from the UK government on the peace talks in Kampala between government troops and the M23 rebels aimed at ending fighting in eastern DR Congo, on the events of the past few days and on a response and reaction to them. Furthermore, he wanted to know what actions had been taken on the UK side to secure the regional peace process and to support the new UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mrs. Mary Robinson. He also inquired about possibilities to integrate various initiatives, national and international actors to take a regional and more constituent approach.

Further insights and answers to the questions raised came from Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, Lord Chidgey, Lord Collins of Highbury and Baroness Warsi, the Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


PN Member Lord McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland, is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa in the UK Parliament. He was Member of the Scottish Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw from 1999 to 2011 and served as the Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Special Representative for Peacebuilding from 2008 to 2010.

For proceedings of the debate, please click here.

Photo by Oxfam NZ.

Read stories from: