By Spy Uganda
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, April 21, hosted Presidents Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi over what reports say were talks on the insecurity caused by militia groups in the region and especially eastern DR Congo.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Vincent Biruta, represented President Paul Kagame.
According to reports, President Tshisekedi was the first of the visiting leaders to arrive in Nairobi, earlier on Wednesday, for the Mini-Summit devoted to peace and security in the East African Community. His country became the seventh member of the EAC on March 29 when the EAC Heads of State admitted it.
The DR Congo President’s Office tweeted that the meeting was evoked on March 30, on the occasion of the last meeting marked by the accession of his country into the EAC.
“This Mini-Summit will examine the imperatives of stabilization of the region within the framework of the Community goals,” reads part of the tweet.
The meeting in the Kenyan capital comes at the time when Kenya, through its embassy in Kinshasa, suspended their nationals’ operation along Mahagi-Bunia-Kisangani road ‘until proper security measures are put in place.’
In a letter dated April 17, Peter Owiti, the head of Chancery and Deputy Head of Mission in Kenya’s Embassy in Kinshasa said two Kenyan drivers were kidnapped “by a group of armed persons suspected to be members of one of the rebel groups” on April 15.
The diplomat noted that the incident occurred at around 16:00 hours at Kommanda market, along the Bunia-Mombasa road in Ituri Province.
The Embassy of Kenya in Kinshasa issued a notice to the Kenyan business community, particularly truck owners and truck drivers, to immediately suspend their operations along the Mahagi-Bunia-Kisangani route until proper security measures are put in place.
Earlier, the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), on March 29, confirmed the death of eight peacekeepers onboard a helicopter that disappeared and clashed.
The UN said the helicopter had 8 soldiers on board and was on reconnaissance in the area of Tshanzu, southeast of Rutshuru in North Kivu Province, an area which had been the scene of recent fighting between M23 and the Congolese military.
DR Congo’s army is reported to have claimed the helicopter was shot down by M23 rebels. But the group denied this, instead claiming the Congolese military was responsible for the crash.
The M23 group was driven out of DR Congo after a series of attacks in 2012 and 2013 and chased into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, but has since come back to wage attacks, including a similar incident in November 2021 when an armed group believed to be ex-M23 rebels, crossed into DR Congo, attacked and occupied the villages of Tshanzu and Runyoni.
The two villages, Tshanzu and Runyoni, were the last strongholds of the rebel group before it was chased by Congolese and UN forces and escaped into Uganda and Rwanda in 2013.
Uganda and DR Congo are currently conducting joint military operations in eastern DR Congo against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels who originated from Uganda.
Amid deteriorating security in the eastern part of DR Congo, Bintou Keita, who heads MONUSCO, recently called for a comprehensive political strategy to address the structural causes of the conflicts.
In a briefing to the Security Council, she said that only three months into this year, nearly 2,300 civilian deaths were recorded in the country’s eastern provinces.
“This is proof of the inherent limits of only having security operations to resolve conflicts,” she said.
Keita said the security situation in the country’s east deteriorated despite the joint military operations against armed groups by the Congolese military (FARDC), which was joined by the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
She said civilian losses and displacement of populations have increased because of bloody reprisals by ADF militants.