Kenya To Host Talks Between Democratic Republic Of Congo And Rebels

The proposed dialogue between the DR Congo gov’t and rebels came up during a meeting of the East African Community (EAC), which DR Congo has just been inducted into.

The Kenyan capital, Nairobi, will host talks between some rebel groups in eastern DR Congo and the government of President Felix Tshisekedi, the Kenyan presidency has announced.

The meeting is expected to commence from today, Friday, April 22.

A decision was reached in Nairobi during a meeting between the leaders of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and DR Congo on Thursday, April 21, after which the Kenyan presidency announced that the DR Congo would hold “a consultative meeting with some rebels this Friday”.

“The Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has graciously accepted to welcome and furnish logistic support to consultations in Nairobi,” said the Kenyan presidency in a statement without naming the rebel groups invited for the discussions.

These discussions came after the integration of the DR Congo into the East African Community (EAC), a regional organisation with a single market allowing for the free circulation of goods and persons. The organisation now counts seven member states namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, and the DR Congo.

According to the Kenyan presidency, during their meeting on Thursday, the heads of state discussed ways of putting in place a regional force to neutralise the armed rebel groups operating in the region.

“The meeting worked on organising such a force with immediate effect,” the Kenyan presidency revealed, and all foreign armed groups in the DR Congo were also called to immediately lay down their arms and return to their countries of origin.

“Groups that do not abide by this directive will be considered as negative forces and will be militarily dealt with by the region,” the statement  warned.

There have been fierce clashes between the DR Congo national army, FARDC and the M23 rebels who are members of a former Congolese Tutsi rebellion who announced their withdrawal 10 days ago from villages they were occupying, affirming that they wanted “a peaceful resolution of the crisis”.

The M23 were defeated in 2013 by the DR Congo army but by the end of last year, accused  the Kinshasa authorities of not respecting the engagements it took on the demobilisation of its combatants.

Another rebel group active in eastern DR Congo is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), presented by the jihadist Islamic State as its Central African branch.

The ADF rebels group is accused of having perpetrated several attacks against the DR Congo army and civilians resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. It is also accused of a series of bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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