President Paul Kagame has attended an East African Community (EAC) High Level Consultative meeting on the situation in Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), chaired by his counterpart of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye who also serves as the current EAC Chairperson.
The meeting which took place on the sidelines of the 27th United Nations Climate Change (COP27) on Monday 7th November 2022; was also attended by the President of Kenya, William Ruto; Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and Congolese Prime Minister, Sama Lukonde.
The meeting is held amidst escalating tensions between Rwanda and DRC over reciprocal accusations related to the fight between Congolese Army (FARDC) and M23 rebel group.
FARDC continues to loose bases to M23 rebel group and attributes its strength to alleged support from Rwanda.
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Rwanda has however denied the allegations repeatedly calling the fight with M23 an internal problem which should be addressed by DRC.
DRC President, Félix Tshisekedi recently revealed figuratively that it is time to wage a war on Rwanda after elucidating that diplomatic process is no longer a promising option to restore peace in the eastern part of his country.
Topics of discussions between the heads of state have not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, joint EAC forces are expected to be deployed to fight armed groups in DRC event though the country has boycotted Rwandan troops from participating in the regional efforts.
It is expected that Ugandan troops with work with Congolese Army (FARDC) to fight armed groups in Beni and Ituri regions.
Kenyan forces will be deployed in the outskirts of Goma and Rutshuru, Burundians will be based in Southern Kivu Province while others form South Sudan will be deployed in Haut-Uélé.
Areas of operations for Tanzanian troops have not yet been designated given that it already has soldiers in the country serving under The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
Sources indicate that they might assist in intelligence gathering and sharing of information.
Last week, President Ndayishimiye held talks with Uhuru Kenyatta, former Kenyan President who serves as Kenya’s peace envoy to the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, with whom they agreed that Nairobi peace talks on security problems in eastern DRC have to resume on 16th November 2022.
The decision was reached as Kenyatta, the EAC facilitator on the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo visited Burundi where he met with Ndayishimiye on Friday 4th November 2022.
They discussed different issues including the resumption of Nairobi peace talks bringing together DRC and hostile armed groups.
Kenyatta and Ndayishimiye also discussed the plan to send EAC joint troops to eastern DRC.
In April this year, EAC demanded all foreign armed groups operating in DRC including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the National Liberation Forces (FNL) to lay down arms or be annihilated militarily through joint regional force.
DRC had agreed to participate in the talks but rejected any negotiations with M23 which it labeled as a terrorist group.
However, it recently changed its position and announced that it would only engage in talks with the rebel after withdrawing from occupied areas.