EAC leaders urge ceasefire in eastern DRC

EAST Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State have noted with appreciation the financial contributions by Tanzania and Kenya towards the EAC Peace Facility Fund and urged other bloc members to follow suit.

At a summit in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Saturday, the leaders of the EAC bloc enjoined an “immediate ceasefire by all parties in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” according to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting.

The 20th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State was meant to evaluate the current security situation in the Eastern DRC. The meeting was the latest diplomatic effort to try to end the conflict, which has displaced at least 520,000 people since March 2022 in North Kivu.

“The summit reiterated its call to all parties to de-escalate tensions,” the communiqué read.

The M23 rebel group has seized large areas of eastern DRC’s North Kivu province in a rapid onslaught since October 20 that has threatened the provincial capital, Goma.

The summit, chaired by President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, who is the chairperson of the EAC, was attended by Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and President Paul Kagame (Rwanda).

Other Heads of State who attended the summit were Felix Tshisekedi of DRC, Dr William Ruto (Kenya) and South Sudan’s Minister for East African Community Affairs, Deng Kuol, who represented President Salva Kiir.

According to the communiqué, the summit has observed that the security situation in Eastern DRC is a regional matter that can only be sustainably resolved through a political process and emphasised the need for enhanced dialogue among all parties.

The Heads of State directed that the political process should be strengthened and escalated to involve all stakeholders, including an immediate ceasefire by all parties and withdrawal of all foreign armed, while directing the chiefs of defence forces to meet within one week and set new timelines for the withdraw.

The Heads of State also recommended an appropriate deployment matrix accompanied by dialogue and violations should be reported to the chairperson of summit for immediate consultation with members of summit.

Other instructions of the summit are for all troop-contributing countries to immediately facilitate the deployment of troops from South Sudan and Uganda to East African Regional Force.

Moreover, the Heads of State reiterated their decision at the High-Level Consultative Meeting of the Summit on Peace Process in Eastern DRC held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

They commended the peace process facilitators including the facilitator of the EAC-LED Nairobi process former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, for his leadership and efforts on re-energising the peace process and the African Union Peace and Security Council.

The summit also commended the UN Security Council and International Community for political and financial support towards implementation of the EAC – LED Nairobi process and Luanda process.

The regional leaders also commended Angola and Senegal for the financial contribution which largely facilitated the on-going political process.

On the other hand, the Heads of State called upon all parties to respect and implement decisions of the summit and obligations agreed upon in the previous meetings and established instruments on restoration of peace and security in eastern DRC.

The summit reiterated its call to all parties to de-escalate tensions and use established regional continental and international mechanisms to resolve any disputes in the implementation of peace in eastern DRC.

Adding, the summit reiterated the need for implementation of the decisions and directives of the 22nd meeting of the summit of the EAC Heads of State on the security situation in eastern DRC.

The summit also directed all local armed groups to embrace dialogue, lay down their arms and join the political process as path toward unconditional disarmament and creation of enabling environment for participation in upcoming democratic processes.

Earlier this week, Pope Francis visited the DRC and called for an end to violence in the country.

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