African leaders sign Congo peace deal
February 25, 2013 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, signs the peace accord Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
- NEW: U.N.-backed deal could get Democratic Republic of Congo out of "current morass"
- Leaders from several African countries sign the deal
- It is meant to stabilize the nation's restive eastern region
- Congo's army is fighting the M23 rebel group
(CNN) -- African leaders signed a U.N.-backed deal on Sunday meant to bring stability to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Government forces are battling the M23 rebel group in the eastern part of that country.
"It is my earnest hope that the framework will lead to an era of peace and stability for the peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
Opinion: How Obama can end Congo conflict
The agreement calls for cooperation among nations to "preserve and protect the territorial sovereignty" of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he said.
Life in Goma amid crisis
Ban praised the framework but stressed that it marks just the beginning of a "comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement."
Rwanda's president discusses DR Congo
The deal was signed in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa by envoys of several African nations, including Uganda and Rwanda. Representatives from the rebel group were not involved.
Ban said that a U.N. special envoy would be appointed to support the deal's implementation.
South African President Jacob Zuma said the agreement represents an opportunity.
Opinion: Hope for an end to world's deadliest war
"This framework in itself does not provide all the answers, it is an instrument that points the Government of the DRC, its immediate neighbors and the international community in a direction that will take this country out of the current morass," Zuma said at the signing ceremony. The possible deployment of an intervention brigade of U.N. troops has been mentioned as a way of stabilizing the nation's restive eastern region.
The agreement had been expected to be signed last month, but was delayed because of what Ban described as "procedural issues."
The M23 group was named for a peace deal of March 23, 2009, which it accuses the government of violating. The soldiers, mostly Tutsis, became part of the national army through that accord.
However, they broke away from the Congolese army in April, complaining they weren't being promoted as promised and because of a lack of pay and poor conditions.
Fighting between the M23 and the army has displaced close to a million people in North Kivu province and more than 300,000 in the southeastern province of Katanga, according to the United Nations.
The unrest continues a cycle of misery in eastern Congo, a mineral-rich region at the epicenter of political and ethnic conflict involving its neighbors to the east, Uganda and Rwanda.
The area has been embroiled in violence since 1994, when Hutu forces crossed the border from Rwanda fearing reprisals after the genocide in that country.
CNN's Joseph Netto and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.