Panafrican News Agency

AU backs plan to dispatch regional force to restore stability in the DRC

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union supports the planned deployment of a regional force to end the hostilities in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said on Tuesday.

The decision to deploy the peace mission was part of the outcome of the Second Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), held on 21 April 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The AU Chairperson said he was particularly pleased by the decision to immediately deploy a regional force to restore peace and stability in the DRC.

The chairperson commended President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Eastern Africa leaders for their common efforts towards finding a sustainable solution to the situation in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region as whole.

"Furthermore, the chairperson welcomes the convened meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council of 19 April 2022 on the outcome of the 10th Regional Oversight Mechanism Summit held in February 2022 in Kinshasa, and reaffirms AU’s continued commitment to the full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region, as one of the guarantors of the Agreement."

The deployment of the regional force is part of an effort to end the decades- old conflict in the region, which is minerally rich. Peace talks have already commenced in Nairobi.

The East African leaders requested the international community to immediately consider joining the talks as observers to help end the crisis in the region.

The inter-DRC peace dialogue kicked off in Kenya a day after the heads of state Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The talks were facilitated by the Director, Peace and Security Directorate in Kenya.

Kenya's Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Ambassador Macharia Kamau said the deliberations were purely an Inter-Congolese (DRC) Dialogue.

He laid out the nature of participation of each delegation. Each Party was represented by three delegates, regional observers by two delegates and international partners by one delegate each.

During the opening ceremony, representative of the DRC Government, M-23, observers (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, EAC, UN Nairobi) made opening remarks.

The observers welcomed the initiative and thanked the Government of the Republic of Kenya for hosting the inter Congolese Dialogue. They urged for peaceful , coronial and candid discussions.

The Republic of Uganda lead Observer presented an outcome titled ‘Report of the Coordination of the 1st Exchange Meeting Between the DRC and M-23 held in Entebbe, Uganda (20th April, 2022)’.

The document reports on the meeting convened by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, as a follow-up to the First Heads of State Conclave of 8th April, 2022.

The report recommends full implementation of the decisions of the First Conclave, particularly on ceasefire and freezing of forces; ceasefire monitoring mechanism; timelines for the political process currently underway and a call for M-23 to support the DDRRR programme being implemented by the DRC government.

The M23 representatives from Rwanda also presented an agreement signed in 2019 between them and the DRC government and called on the DRC to accept its inclusion, record and be considered during deliberations.

The DRC government accepted the request. A delegation of Congolese nationals from Mitego Kingdom in Ituri Province, led by Rutahaba Kituku, King of Mitego Kingdom, included Mbabazi Rutahaba lilian, Queen of Mitego Kingdom; Ruhugwa Baguma Patricie, Prime Minister of Mitego Kingdom, Kituku Gerald, Prince of Mitego Kingdom and five other members, addressed the meeting.

Through a written message read out by the Secretary of the Kingdom, and supplementary remarks, the delegation made the case as victims of the general instability in the region and called for more government action to restore peace in Ituri province.

The delegation further called for recognition of the existence and role of the Kingdom, saying that the people of that region were peace loving and did not carry arms.

In response, the representative of the government assured the delegation that the president of DRC was aware of the presence and the role the people of the area played and appreciated the contribution they made towards peace and stability in their communities and in DRC in general.

He assured them that the government of DRC respected the community and its leadership and encouraged them to continue playing the positive role.

In a surprise move, the representative of the government accused the M-23 (Uganda) for launching attacks in Bukasa North Kivu as the Peace Dialogue was ongoing in Nairobi.

Consequently, the delegation revealed to the meeting that they had instructions to withdraw from any dialogue with the M-23 (Uganda).

He nevertheless clarified the readiness to continue with the dialogue attended by other armed groups, other than the M-23 group based in Uganda.

The allegations were quickly rebuffed by the representative of M-23 based in Uganda who in turn accused the government for provocation.

The host urged the Parties to consider the task ahead as directed by the Quintet Summit of Heads of State held on 21st April 2022 and on whose authority the dialogue was being held and try to move way from posturing.

He encouraged them to hold frank and open discussions while remaining factual and candid with each other and bear in mind that the citizens of DRC were closely following on the discussion.

Several leaders of the armed groups in the DRC and their representatives have arrived in Kenya for the talks.

The DRC government will continue to lead the dialogue. The discussion being held with DRC will consider the formation of the Dialogue Facilitation Team. The Lead facilitator will be supported by three DRC officials and by one observer each from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

-0- PANA AO/RA 26April2022