Following the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23) uprising, the DRC has been facing a resurgence of tensions in the east of the country for months.
East African leaders on Monday agreed to set up a regional force to end the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and call for a ceasefire.
The announcement was made by the Kenyan president after a meeting on Monday in Nairobi by seven members of the East African Community (EAC) dedicated to the security situation in this tense region.
“State leaders have indicated that they will work with the regional forces, the military and the DRC executive forces to try to stabilize and stabilize peace within the DRC,” he said in a statement. “Kenyan leaders have called for an immediate ceasefire and an immediate ceasefire,” the Kenyan president said.
Return of tension
The mineral-rich DRC has been plagued by dozens of armed groups in the East, most of which are the legacy of two regional wars over a quarter of a century ago. Tensions in the east in recent weeks have sparked renewed hostility between the DRC and Rwanda, triggered by the resurgence of the March 23 movement (M23) insurgency, which has been blamed for killing at least 26 soldiers in Congo in January.
Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting the Tutsi rebellion, which Kigali denies. The M23 was defeated in 2013, but took up arms again at the end of 2021, accusing Congolese authorities of failing to honor its agreement to mobilize and reunite its fighters. Clashes between the M23 and the Congolese army led thousands of people to flee to neighboring Uganda.
Kenya’s statement did not specify whether Rwanda would play a role in the regional forces, while Kinshasa said it had not already accepted its presence. “This force, which is under Kenya’s military command, should operate in the coming weeks and should not include elements of the Rwandan military,” the DRC leadership confirmed on Twitter for its part.
The meeting between DRC and Rwanda on Monday was attended by Congolese President Felix Shisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame since the massive visit of Rwandan Hutu to the eastern DRC nearly 30 years ago, who was accused of assassinating Tutsi during the 1994 genocide. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as Tanzanian Ambassador to Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda and Nairobi.
Moussa Faki Mohammed, chairman of the African Union Commission, welcomed the outcome of the meeting in Nairobi in a statement posted on Twitter. “I call for the immediate implementation of their decision to restore peace in the Eastern DRC,” he added.
“Issues affecting the region, such as the Congo crisis, require a collective approach from all regional members of the East African community,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wrote on Twitter during the meeting. “These people are very vulnerable because we need to insist on working together,” he added.
Capturing a border post
Yoweri Museveni’s government has sent troops to help Congolese forces crack down on Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels accused of being responsible for the massacre of thousands of civilians in eastern Congo and the attacks in Uganda.
The group, of Ugandan descent, was named by the United States last March as one of the “terrorist groups” affiliated with Islamic State jihadists. After the M23 captured the border post between the DRC and Uganda, Punagana last week, the Kenyan president called for the deployment of a regional force in the eastern DRC.
M23 announced on Monday that it would reopen the border post they captured on June 13. Founded in 2000, the East African Community aims to facilitate cross-border trade by eliminating customs duties between its member countries. It established a common market in 2010.
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