Source: Enough Project
By Jonathan Hutson
3 November 2011, WASHINGTON – The Obama administration should use the lead-up to Congo’s election this month as an opportunity to press the Congolese government into reforms that will help end conflict in the country’s restive east, according to a new Enough Project report.
The report highlights seven areas of progress being made to reform the conflict minerals sector in Congo, one of the key drivers of the war that has killed more than five million people. The report also looks at three important goals that can be achieved by the end of the year to bring transparency to the mineral industry and security to Congolese in the mining sector.
“Eastern Congo is a key election battleground region," said Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Policy Consultant and report author. "Easterners are unhappy about the Congolese government's lack of progress in ending the war. The Obama administration should use this opportunity of influence to press the Congolese government to choose reform to win votes, not armed force to repress opposition."
In order to improve lives of Congolese in the east, three key steps must be taken this year, according to the report. The Obama administration should support the adoption of a regional monitoring team to inspect mines and traders, the demilitarization of mines through the deployment of UN observer troops around mines, and a targeted livelihood fund for miners.
“There is still a need for further work on conflict minerals and to help open the door to army reform and governance issues,” said Aaron Hall, Enough Project policy analyst. "A monitoring mechanism, improved mine security and civil society and mining community protection are concrete steps that can be taken this year, alongside a diplomatic initiative toward certification. But time is running out. We must utilize this year’s window of the elections to press the Congolese government on reforms.”