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UN chief urges political process to end violence in eastern DR Congo

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 31 — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday condemned the latest bout of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and called on all parties to engage in the political process that aims to address the causes of the conflict.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban said he was "deeply concerned about the escalating violence in the eastern DRC" and in particular by the indiscriminate shelling by the M23 that caused deaths, injuries and damage among the civilians and in the immediate border area in Rwanda, as well as among UN peacekeepers.

"The Secretary-General encourages all parties concerned to pursue a comprehensive political process aimed at addressing the root causes of the conflict," the statement said.

Ban called on all regional actors concerned to "exercise utmost restraint and refrain from any acts or statements that could lead to a further deterioration of the situation," urging all countries with influence in the region to assist in easing tensions.

The secretary-general's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, and his Special Representative for the DRC, Martin Kobler, are currently fully engaged in diplomatic efforts to help overcome the current situation, according to the statement.

In addition, the UN chief stressed that the world body "remains committed to taking all necessary actions to protect civilians in the eastern DRC" and "emphasized that spoilers and those who violate international law must be held accountable."

Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, have clashed repeatedly with the Congolese Armed Forces. The rebels briefly occupied Goma in November 2012.

The fighting resumed in recent weeks, this time dragging in a group of Ugandan-based rebels. The clashes displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating the region's ongoing humanitarian crisis, which includes 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.

As part of an effort to address the underlying causes of violence in the region, the government of DRC along with 10 other countries and four regional and international institutions adopted a framework in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to consolidate peace in the country.

Known formally as the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region, the accord serves as a blueprint for peace and development in the region. (PNA/Xinhua)

CTB/RSM

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