Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) have set forth the roadmap towards the full restoration of peace and security in the eastern part of the bloc’s newest member, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A mini peace summit convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current chair of the EAC, in Nairobi, brought together Presidents Félix Antoine Tshisekedi of DRC, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Maj. Gen Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
President Paul Kagame was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, at the summit which focused on the security situation in eastern DRC and the region in general.
A communique released at the end of the meeting indicated that the leaders took note of the situation in eastern DRC and of neighbouring countries.
It indicated that after fruitful discussions, held in a frank and cordial environment, and in order to promote peace, stability and development in the eastern DRC and the greater East African Region, the leaders also agreed to invite other leaders of the East African Community to join the conclave and to engage them in future sittings.
The leaders agreed to “welcome the participation, in an observer status, of a representative of the United Nations Secretary General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Secretary General of the ICGLR, the Secretary General of the East African Community, as and when called upon to participate by the DRC,”
They also agreed to “welcome bilateral interlocutors such the United States and France in an observer status” while a special envoy to follow up on the process was appointed while the leaders also committed to progress the work of the meeting along two tracks- the political track overseen by President Kenyatta.
“The meeting agreed that a political process be commenced under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to facilitate consultations to be undertaken between the DRC and local armed groups in the DRC,”
“Further to the outcome of the first Heads of State Conclave, the meeting recalled that a consultative dialogue between the President of the DRC and the representatives of local armed groups in the DRC is to take place at the earliest possible time,”
The meeting was informed that the President of the DRC will chair such a consultative meeting on Friday, 22nd April, 2022.
President Kenyatta graciously agreed to host and provide logistical support for the consultations in Nairobi. The meeting further agreed that the President of the DRC would subsequently inform his colleagues of the outcome of the consultations at the next sitting.
The leaders agreed to accelerate the establishment of a regional force to help contain and, where necessary, fight the negative forces and the meeting directed the urgent deployment of such a force.
“The meeting directed that planning for such a force commence with immediate effect with the full consultation of relevant authorities in the region,”
The meeting agreed to follow up on the implementation of the political and military and security enforcement tracks. The leaders also directed that all armed groups in the DRC participate unconditionally in the political process to resolve their grievances.
“That failure to do so, All Congolese Armed groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region,” the meeting agreed, adding that all foreign armed groups in the DRC must disarm and return unconditionally and immediately to their respective countries of origin.
“That failure to do so these groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region,” the communique reads. The EAC leaders also agreed that the establishment of the regional force to fight the negative forces should commence immediately under the leadership of the DRC.
“The leaders resolved to meet within one month to evaluate progress on the implementation of work,” it adds.