This article provides an analytical framework to understand how participation of armed actors in peace negotiations influences local violence. It argues that the link between violence and exclusion or inclusion of armed actors is often indirect and depends on armed actors' underlying motivations to be included and their corresponding strategies. Based on an analysis of the Congolese peace process from 1999 to 2003, the article assesses how the mandate of the peace process influenced armed groups’ motivations to be included. It then analyzes the strategies that armed actors used to be included and examines their impact on local violence. Thereby, it allows for a more nuanced understanding of how participation of armed actors in a mediation process influences prospects for peace.