DR Congo crisis: EAC leaders meet in Addis to talk PEACE

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East African Leaders on Friday, participated in a Mini-Summit on Peace and Security in the Eastern Region of DRC, on the sidelines of the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Heads of State discussed the implementation of the Nairobi peace process and Luanda roadmap in a bid to address the deteriorating security situation in eastern DR Congo.

The meeting chaired by Angolan President, João Lourenço, 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 the parties.

The Leaders directed that the political process should be strengthened and escalated to involve all stakeholders.

The Addis meeting also comes after EAC Defence Chiefs on February 9 directed the immediate deployment of troops from countries yet to join the regional force in Goma, capital of North province in eastern DRC.

The regional military chiefs met in Nairobi following the regional leaders’ directive on February 4 to have forces on the ground based on a timeline agreed on by the security chiefs.

They agreed to deploy troops to areas earmarked for the M23 rebels’ phased withdrawal and the protection of civilians in areas earlier vacated by the rebels. The M23 rebel group began its withdrawal in December 2022 and has since pulled out from Kibumba and Rumagambo military base. The regional force occupies the positions vacated by the M23 rebels.

A deteriorating security situation in eastern DR Congo where more than 130 armed groups – including the FDLR genocidal militia formed by masterminds of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda – operate has posed a serious threat to the region’s peace and security. 

Heads of State present include, João Lourenço (Angola), Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo) William Ruto (Kenya) and Hassan Suluhu Samia (Tanzania).

Other delegates include, Jessica Alupo (Vice President of Uganda), and Deng Dau (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (South Sudan), EAC SG Peter Mathuki and Commissioner for African Union Commission Political Affairs, Peace and Security Ambassador Bankole Adeoye.

The 36th AU Summit brought together Heads of State and Government of the 55 AU Member States from 15-19 February 2023.

Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson