A regional specialized force is set to be deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo to defuse tensions caused by several armed groups especially in the eastern part of the country.
In a statement issued by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 15 in his capacity as the Chairperson of the East African Community, he announced the activation of the East African Regional Force under the auspices of the EAC to intervene in the ongoing conflict and defuse it.
“In this regard, the meeting of the regional Commanders of the respective Defence Forces, cooperating in the Nairobi Process, scheduled for Sunday June 19, in Nairobi, should finalize preparations to undertake the deployment of the Regional Force,” read President Uhuru’s statement.
The statement adds in part that the regional force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO.
These provinces were also declared weapon free in the statement.
“The Regional Force will work with local provincial authorities to support an orderly and permanent disarmament process under the Programme de Desarmement, Demobilisation, Relevement Communautaire et Stabilisation (P-DDRCS) in order to create enabling conditions towards stability and peace in the eastern DRC,” add the statement.
The development comes in the wake of the recent rebellion by M23 rebels who demanded that the Congolese government, among others stop collaborating with FDLR and other armed groups that are known to persecute a section of Congolese.
In the same statement, President Kenyatta ordered for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Eastern DRC and for all armed groups to lay down arms unconditionally.
“I continue to call upon the political leadership in the region to remain committed in putting in place and reinforcing the political and military efforts in the DRC towards building lasting peace and stability in the country. I note, with concern, that recent developments including, open hostilities…the hostilities in particular threaten to undermine the ongoing political process,” indicates President Kenyatta’s statement.
The statement came two days after the M23 rebels overran Bunagana, a trading hub on the border with Uganda, forcing Congolese government soldiers there to flee into neighbouring Uganda.
About The Regional Force
The regional initiative is an outcome of the first and second conclaves of the EAC Heads of State conclaves on the peace and security situation in DR Congo under the chairmanship of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta held on April 8 and 21, 2022, respectively, at State House Nairobi.
The first conclave was held on April 8, soon after Tshisekedi signed the Treaty of accession by his country to the EAC, making it the seventh member of the regional economic bloc.
During the second conclave, Presidents Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Kenyatta and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Rwanda’s foreign minister Dr Vincent Biruta, agreed to the deployment of a regional force to contain armed groups in DR Congo.