Ex-Kenyan president, a mediator in Kinshasa’s conflict with M23 rebels, calls for different regional peace initiatives to continue in order to end fighting in eastern DRC.
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, a mediator in the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], has appealed again for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The former Kenyan president was speaking at a meeting in the eastern city of Goma in the conflict-torn region on Wednesday.
“We are not here to open new negotiations,” he told journalists after having met the DRC authorities, UN representatives and western diplomats.
The mainly Tutsi M23 rebel force, which since last year has captured vast swathes of territory in DRC’s border region with Rwanda and Uganda, wants talks with the government as a precondition to any surrender.
The authorities in Kinshasa, however, have ruled out any dialogue with the force, calling for their unconditional surrender — and for the withdrawal of the Rwandan troops they say are helping them.
Kenyatta called for different regional peace initiatives to continue, so as “to ensure the people of the Congo are able to dialogue with each other to resolve the problems of this great nation”.
He also insisted that two million people forced to flee the conflict should be allowed to return safely, and the sovereignty of DRC be respected.
‘Useless war of aggression’
General Constant Ndima, governor of North Kivu province, which sits at the heart of the conflict, denounced the presence of Rwandan troops there in what he called “a useless war of aggression”.
He expressed his gratitude for the presence of the East African Community [EAC] force, which he said was acting as a buffer force between the M23 and Rwanda troops on one side, and Congolese soldiers and the militia supporting them.
In February, DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi denounced the EAC, which is made up of soldiers from Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda, accusing it of “cohabiting” with the M23.
On July 7, the European Union also issued a statement condemning Rwanda’s military presence in DRC, calling on Kigali to pull its troops out and cease any support of the M23 forces.
The EU firmly condemns Rwanda’s support to M23 and Rwanda’s military presence in Eastern DRC, as revealed in the UN Group of Experts reports. The EU reiterates its urgent demand that Rwanda withdraws its troops from Eastern DRC, ceases immediately all support to M23 and uses all the means at its disposal to pressurize the group to comply with the decisions taken under the framework of the Nairobi and Luanda processes. The EU firmly condemns and urges the DRC to cease immediately its support and cooperation with FDLR/FOCA and other local and foreign armed groups and to take all legal and legitimate measures to protect the civilian population on its territory. The EU urges all parties and entities called into question by the UN Group of Experts on the DRC to respond in full and cease any violation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and applicable international law.Council of the EU Statements and remarks 7 July 2023
UN experts, the DRC government and several Western nations, including the United States and France, accuse Rwanda of actively backing the M23, despite denials from Kigali.