East African Community heads of state on Monday directed that a regional force be immediately deployed to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The deployed EAC regional force should, in cooperation with the military and administrative forces of the DRC, seek to stabilise and secure the peace in the DRC,” reads part of the communique released on Monday evening.
The decision to deploy an EAC regional force was arrived at during the third EAC heads of state conclave on Inter-Congolese dialogue of the Nairobi process on the peace and security situation in eastern DRC, which was held on Monday at State House and chaired by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The Regional Force will be constituted as an EAC force under the EAC Protocol on peace and security and the EAC Treaty Article 124 on regional peace and security and Article 125 on cooperation in defence,” the EAC heads of States said in their communique.
The force’s operational mandate and structure was explained to the Heads of state by General Robert Kibochi who also chairs the Committee of East African Community Chiefs of Defence Forces.
However, the statement did not disclose whether Rwandan troops will be deployed alongside the EAC regional force after the DRC raised an objection.
“The Heads of State directed that an immediate ceasefire should be enforced and cessation of hostilities should commence immediately, including withdrawal from recently taken positions,” the statement said.
“In doing so, the political process should be intensified by all parties in order to allow the citizens of the DRC feel safe and secure and be able to pick up and continue their respective social, cultural and economic activities.”
The conclave also called for the building of trust and confidence, cessation of hostilities, and unconditional ceasefire among the fighting groups in the eastern DRC.
The meeting emphasised the need for the people of DRC to participate in the political processes in the country, prioritisation and participation in the country’s development, and citizenship.
The presence of foreign negative elements, fate of combatants during reintegration and status of refugees and internally displaced persons are among critical issues that require concerted, urgent and durable resolution.
“The Heads of State also emphasised that all offensive language, hate speech, threats of genocide and other politically inciting language must cease and must be discouraged by all parties and that the people of the DRC must be encouraged to work together in order to stabilise the eastern DRC for it to prosper.”
The Chairperson of the African Union, Mr Moussa Faki, welcomed the decision made by the EAC Heads of state, urging for their immediate implementation to restore peace in eastern Congo.
“I commend the leaders of Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and welcome their conclusions and today's Nairobi process meeting under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta. I urge the immediate implementation of their decision in order to restore peace in Eastern DRC,” Mr Faki said.
The conclave also received a brief on the consultations made by DRC with various armed and rebel groups within DRC in Nairobi.
The conclave was attended by presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Evariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo).
President Samia Suluhu Hasan was represented at the meeting by Ambassador John Steven Simbachawene, the High Commissioner of Tanzania to Kenya.
President Kenyatta hosted the meeting in his capacity as the Co-convener of the Peace Process and Chairperson of EAC as part of ongoing efforts to accelerate sustainable peace and security in eastern DR Congo.