Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

Regional leaders of the East African Community (EAC) met in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, on Saturday to address the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The leaders called for an immediate ceasefire by all parties involved in the conflict, which has pit the country’s military against the M23 rebel group. The conflict has escalated regional tensions with the DRC accusing Rwanda of supporting the Tutsi-led rebellion, a claim which has been backed by the United Nations and Western powers.

The conflict has displaced over 520,000 people since March 2022 in North Kivu, a territory with a long history of conflict. The regional leaders have previously brokered an agreement in November, under which the rebels were to cease fire and withdraw from recently seized positions by January 15, however, this did not occur. The latest summit was attended by heads of state from Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi, as well as senior officials from the region.

The leaders also demanded the withdrawal of all foreign and armed groups from Congo and asked regional military chiefs to meet within a week to set a timeline for the withdrawal. The summit reiterates the call for all parties to de-escalate tensions. Congo’s President, Felix Tshisekedi, warned the commander of the East African regional military force deployed in eastern Congo against showing bias towards the rebels. Kenyan President William Ruto was present as Tshisekedi warned the commander.

Pope Francis recently visited the DRC and called for an end to the violence. The regional leaders’ latest effort to end the insurgency marks a significant step towards resolving the conflict and ensuring peace in the region. It is crucial that all parties involved in the conflict listen to the calls for peace and take the necessary steps towards ending the violence.

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