A meeting of leaders of the member countries of the East African Community (ECA) will commence on Monday, June 20, in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to discuss the security situation in the restive eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This regional summit comes as tension continues to heighten between DR Congo and Rwanda following the resurgence of the M23 rebel movement.
During an attack, the M23 rebels were accused of killing 26 DR Congo soldiers in January this year.
Since the January attack, DR Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, who are predominantly Tutsis of Rwandan extraction. But Rwanda has persistently debunked all the allegations.
The most recent sign of the increasing tension between the two countries is the killing of a DR Congo soldier on Friday, June 17. There was also a gunfire exchange in Goma at a security post on the border between DR Congo and Rwanda in which two Rwandan police officers were wounded.
“The inhabitants of eastern DR Congo have for long suffered and continue to pay the very high price in human lives and destruction of their goods,” the presidency of Kenya, in a statement issued on Sunday, June 19, said.
On Wednesday, June 15, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for the deployment of a regional force in the eastern DR Congo to re-establish peace.
“The East African regional force must be deployed immediately in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu to stabilise the region and re-establish peace,” the statement further revealed.
The military chiefs of the seven regional countries of the East African Community (Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) met on Sunday, June 19, 2022, to finalise preparations for the deployment of the regional force.
At the end of last week, the DR Congo government rejected the participation of Rwanda in the regional force on its territory.
“Security continues to deteriorate in the east, fundamentally because Rwanda is trying to occupy our territory, which is rich in gold, cobalt and coltan, for its profit. This is an economic war to control the resources, carried out by Rwandan terrorist gangs,” President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo claimed.
President Tshisekedi has called on the international community, “in particular the United States and the United Kingdom, to condemn this invasion and to put pressure on the Rwandan President Paul Kagame to withdraw his troops which have invaded eastern Congo”.
Relations between DR Congo and Rwanda have been very tense since the massive arrival in eastern DR Congo 30 years ago of Rwandan Hutus accused of having massacred Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
Founded in 2000, the EAC has as its primary goal the facilitation of trans-border trade through the abolition of customs duty between member states. Accordingly, it established a common market in 2010.
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