President Uhuru Kenyatta, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC), has called for calm following intense fighting in the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of Congo which has led to tensions between Rwanda and DRC.
In a statement on the situation, President Uhuru said that he called his counterparts in the region on June 14 and 15 to discuss the ongoing situation, indicating that he was encouraged by the positive progress and commitment of leaders to find lasting peace for the people of the DRC. He said a regional force will be deployed immediately.
“I continue to call upon the political leadership in the region to remain committed in putting in place and reinforcing the political and military efforts in the DRC towards building lasting peace and stability in the country,”
“I note, with concern, that recent developments including, open hostilities, create a serious threat to the success of the regional leadership’s work including the promotion of outcomes of the Inter-Congolese (DRC) consultations of the Nairobi Process,” President Uhuru wrote.
The Kenyan leader said that hostilities in particular threaten to undermine the ongoing political process aimed at addressing the security situation as provided for under the 21st April 2022 Communiqué.
The communique followed a meeting in Nairobi which brought together warring parties in DRC but the M23, which said their grievances were disregarded, was ejected from the negotiations before tensions escalated.
The group, which is mainly made up of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese, later said the government forces attacked their positions, prompting them to defend their positions. M23 accuses the government of reneging on a 2013 peace agreement.
President Uhuru called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in the Eastern DRC and for all armed groups, both foreign and local, to lay down arms immediately and unconditionally and to commit to a political process.
“I further call for the declaration of Ituri, North Kivu (Bunagana, Bugusa, most parts of Petit Nord, Masisi, Lubero, Beni-Kasindi main axis) and South Kivu provinces as a WEAPONS FREE ZONE, where any individual or group carrying weapons outside the official and legally deployed and mandated forces in the country will be disarmed,”
“In doing so, I call for the ACTIVATION of the East African Regional Force under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC). The Regional Force is a component of the military/security enforcement track also provided for in the Communiqué adopted on 21st April 2022.” The statement reads.
A meeting of the regional Commanders of the respective Defence Forces, cooperating in the Nairobi Process, is scheduled for Sunday 19th June 2022, in Nairobi. The meeting is expected to finalize preparations to undertake the deployment of the Regional Force.
According to President Uhuru, the East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO.
The Regional Force will work with local provincial authorities to support an orderly and permanent disarmament process under the Programme de Desarmement, Demobilisation, Relevement Communautaire et Stabilisation (P-DDRCS) in order to create enabling conditions towards stability and peace in the eastern DRC.
It is not yet clear how the force will be composed or operationalised.