DRC peace process still on despite church blast

THE East African Community (EAC) remains resolute in restoring peace and security in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), despite a bomb blast at a Pentecostal Church that claimed 17 lives, wounding 39 others at the weekend.

The DRC government has since levelled blame on the Islamic State group-affiliated rebels for the blast in Kasindi, in the east of the country.

In his message that condemns the attack, EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki reiterated that his office was committed to the restoration of peace in Eastern DRC and extended its full support in the pursuit of a sustainable solution to the protracted security situation.

While condoling with the families of the victims, Dr Mathuki called on all parties to establish an immediate ceasefire, respect international law and ensure the safety and security of civilians, in order to enable a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

“The EAC Secretary General restates the call by EAC Heads of State for all local armed groups in Eastern DRC to embrace consultations, lay down their arms and join the political process,” Dr Mathuki explained.

The EAC boss further reiterated the full respect for the territorial integrity of the DRC and restated the commitment to the utilisation of existing regional and global frameworks to address conflict.

Similarly, Dr Mathuki reiterated the appeal by EAC Heads of State to the international community to redouble its efforts to ensure robust international support to DRC in the quest for peace in Eastern DRC.

Last year, the EAC Secretariat initiated the ‘EAC-Led Nairobi Process’, on restoration of peace and security in Eastern DRC.

Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is facilitating the latest peace talks between the DRC government and the rebels under the Inter-Congolese Peace Consultation framework.

By last week, Mr Uhuru had an opportunity of meeting, in his capacity as the Facilitator of the EAC Led- Nairobi Process, with the chairman and senior political and military leaders of the M-23 group, in order to seek to restore peace in Eastern (DRC).

In a demonstration of goodwill and the willingness to work towards the settlement of the situation in North Kivu, the M-23 leaders agreed to continue with an orderly withdrawal and to adhere to a strict cease-fire.

They further agreed to continue to respect and cooperate with the East African Regional Force (EARF) that has now begun to take control of the areas vacated by the M-23; a process that is in adherence to the decision of the extraordinary meeting of the EAC Chiefs of General Staff held in Bujumbura on November 8, 2022.

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