EAC defence chiefs to meet over conflict in eastern DR Congo

The Kenya Defence Forces has released a statement indicating that Kenyan troops will be deployed to the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) following a decision endorsed and adopted by regional leaders at the third East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Conclave on Peace and Security in Eastern DRC held in Nairobi in June 2022.

At the same time, Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who is the chairman of the East African heads of state summit, has said that after consulting with his counterparts, the regional heads of defence forces will be meeting as soon as possible.

“President Evariste Ndayishimiye made a telephone conversation with his counterparts in the region with the aim of harmonising the views on the ways and means of managing the security crisis in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said a statement from the president Ndayishimiye’s spokesman Alain-Diomede Nzeyimana.

“At the end of the exchanges, it was decided that a meeting of the heads of defence forces of the EAC member countries should be held as soon as possible to study the parameters of a concerted and sustainable response, which will be followed by an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State,” the statement added.

Fighting intensifies

This comes as fighting between DRC forces and M23 rebels intensified in the eastern part of the country, forcing thousands of people to flee the country.

Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, allegations that Rwanda has denied.

While addressing the East African Legislative Assembly in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on Tuesday, President Paul Kagame said his government is committed to peace and stability in the region.

“Rwanda remains committed to peace and stability efforts within the frameworks at both regional and continental levels,” said President Kagame.

His comments came after the DRC expelled Rwanda’s ambassador Vincent Karega. He was given 48 hours to leave the country.

Regional forces deployment

In June this year, Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then chairman of the East African Community heads of state summit, ordered the deployment of regional forces into DRC. The move came after M23 announced the capture of Bunagana city in the eastern part of the country, forcing hundreds of Congolese to flee to neighbouring Uganda.

Since then, there had been no any official announcement of deployment of the EAC standby force to DRC.

The Democratic Republic of Congo joined the East African Community in March this year. One month later, the new regional bloc member accused Kigali of destabilising the country by supporting the M23 rebels.

“There is concern about the escalation of the conflict between Rwanda and DRC, but the president (Kagame) was very clear that Rwanda is committed to existing regional and continental frameworks,” said George Odongo, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly from Uganda.


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