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Why Nairobi meeting between Tshisekedi and armed groups flopped

Saturday April 23 2022
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By PARTICK ILUNGA

The planned talks between armed groups and Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi did not materialise in Nairobi on Friday, with officials now saying they have moved to a Plan B.

President Félix Tshisekedi was initially scheduled to receive representatives of armed groups in Nairobi on Friday, but their representatives failed to show up due to “logistical challenges”.

Some sources said the rebel groups could not travel to Kenya on time, despite Nairobi having made plans to facilitate their travel.

Mr Tshisekedi was subsequently expected to leave Nairobi late on Friday to return to Kinshasa, ending any prospect of him directly engaging the groups.

Officials now say the talks could be held between the armed groups and a special taskforce appointed by President Tshisekedi.

Consultations will, however, continue in Nairobi, overseen by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Tina Salama, the deputy spokeswoman for the Congolese president, said the government was not abandoning talks but it would now delegate the discussions to a team under the President.

“The president (Felix Tshisekedi) is not receiving representatives of the armed groups on Friday in Nairobi. A Congolese team will remain on site under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta to bring the process to a successful conclusion,” she said, adding that the “logistical problems” were the cause of the meeting flopping.

For the second time in less than two weeks, several heads of state of the East African Community (EAC) met in Nairobi on April 21 to discuss security in the Great Lakes region. 

Tshisekedi, Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Burundi’s Head of State Evariste Ndayishimiye were present at the April 21 meeting. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who attended the previous meeting, was represented by his Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta.

DR Congo recently joined the EAC as its seventh member, and the leaders of the bloc want to help it regain peace in its borders to ensure regional security.

The leaders chose negotiation first, urging the armed groups to accept the peace talks and lay down their arms, failing which the EAC will resort to deploying bloc's military in the troubled eastern DRC.

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