Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Eliot Engel, the senior Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement regarding the decision by M23, a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to lay down its arms.

“The fact that the M23 rebel group has agreed to lay down its arms in the eastern DRC is an especially welcome development for the safety of civilian populations and stability of the overall Great Lakes region. I want to commend Ambassador Russ Feingold, our special envoy to the Great Lakes region for the work he has done to bring all parties to the table, while also pursuing broader efforts at regional stability.”

“The M23’s decision to end its armed rebellion, however, should not be used as an excuse to divert the international community’s attention away from the overarching peace and security issues that continue to bedevil the Congo. We cannot forget that the M23 is just one of the dozens of rebel groups in Eastern Congo. Further, talks in Kampala still need to be concluded with clear terms outlining the process for the M23’s complete disarmament and re-integration into society.”

“Neighboring countries continue to be a critical part of a lasting peace, and they must know that the U.S. and the international community will not tolerate the use of military proxies such as the M23 to carve out zones of influence in eastern Congo. Rwanda and others in the region must commit to a diplomatic track which will respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Congo in the future.”