Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated his call for armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo to lay down their weapons and work with President Félix Tshisekedi for peace and stability.
Rebel groups have been warring in eastern DRC, leading to loss of life and property as well as displacement of locals.
DR Congo recently joined the bloc as the seventh member.
Last week, leaders from the East African Community urged the armed groups to choose dialogue, with some of the groups meeting in Nairobi to begin talks.
The EAC leaders also agreed to send a regional force to quell any further violence in eastern DRC, a move that was endorsed by the African Union and the United Nations.
Talks between emissaries of Tshisekedi and representatives of armed groups ended on Wednesday in Nairobi after meeting for five days.
The negotiators will meet again in the coming days, before the next conclave of evaluation of the Heads of State of the East African community scheduled for the end of May.
During a virtual Inter-Congolese Peace Dialogue on Wednesday evening after the talks, President Kenyatta said, “Without laying down weapons and forging an unbreakable national compact to secure the DRC, the fruits of prosperity, that you all deserve from the teeming rich endowments, will remain elusive.”
“This makes it urgent for all people of goodwill in the DRC to coalesce together and frantically set a foundation of prosperity by working tirelessly for an enduring peace,” the President told the people of DR Congo.
“The historical call to be our brothers’ keepers is a bell that has been tolling and to which Kenya always keeps responding. We will not relent in your pursuit of peace for prosperity. This is why we reached out to you, our brothers, our sisters of the DRC.”
President Kenyatta likened Kenya’s facilitation of the peace dialogue to the traditional drummer calling elders to the village square to help resolve matters that threaten peace.
He also thanked President Tshisekedi and the armed groups for heeding the call for dialogue and encouraged them to harness their efforts to bring peace to DRC.
Speaking in English and Kiswahili, President Kenyatta urged the DRC parties to follow the example of Kenya, where he and his historical opponent Raila Odinga made peace.
Tshisekedi thanked participants of the talks, adding that “all those who have chosen the path of peace can count on me.”
Nearly 30 delegates representing armed groups from Ituri, North and South Kivu took part in the talks, which were also attended by observers from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, the United Nations, the ICGLR, the United States and France. Those who did not make it to Nairobi can join the process at the next meeting.
Majority agreed to lay down arms while a few requested to be given more time to appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to join hands in building their country.
- Additional reporting by Patrick Ilunga