Kenyatta calls for immediate deployment of a Regional force in DRC, disarmament of armed groups

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Kenyan president and East African Community Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta; Courtesy photo

Kenya’s president who is also the Chairman of the East African Community (EAC) Uhuru Kenyatta has called for the immediate deployment of a regional force to stabilize the situation in DRC.

In a statement issued on 15th June 2022, Kenyatta further wants Ituri, North Kivu (Bunagana, Bugusa, most parts of Petit Nord, Masisi, Lubero, Beni-Kasindi main axis) and South Kivu provinces declared as a WEAPONS FREE ZONE, where any individual or group carrying weapons outside the official and legally deployed and mandated forces in the country will be disarmed.

The president’s remarks come at a critical period when the volatile and conflict-prone Eastern DRC is experiencing war in Rutshuru, North Kivu Province near Uganda as M23 rebels claim territory. There also have been tensions between DRC and Rwanda with every side accusing the other for attacks on their territory.

About 70 armed groups active in the mineral rich South Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but most of the militia groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.

Kenyatta said a meeting of the regional Commanders of the respective Defence Forces, cooperating in the Nairobi Process, scheduled for Sunday 19th June 2022, in Nairobi will finalize preparations to undertake the deployment of the Regional Force.

“The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces,” he said.

“I, therefore, call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in the Eastern DRC and for all armed groups, both foreign and local, to lay down arms immediately and unconditionally and to commit to a political process,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

FULL STATEMENT

STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, CGH, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN THE EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

On 21st April 2022, I hosted the Second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo in Nairobi which was attended by His Excellency Félix Antoine TSHISEKEDI Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo; His Excellency Évariste NDAYISHIMIYE, President of the Republic of Burundi; His Excellency Yoweri MUSEVENI, President of the Republic of Uganda while His Excellency Paul KAGAME, President of the Republic of Rwanda was represented by the Rwandan Foreign Minister.

During this meeting, we deliberated on the security situation in the Eastern DRC and adopted the 21st April 2022 Communiqué, outlining measures to promote peace, stability and development in the Eastern DRC and the greater East African Region.

Thereafter, as the co-convener of the Inter Congolese (DRC) consultations of the Nairobi Process, I undertook a series of telephone conversations with my colleagues in the region on the 14th and again on the 15th of June 2022.

Encouraged by the positive progress and commitment of leaders to find lasting peace for the people of the DRC, I continue to call upon the political leadership in the region to remain committed in putting in place and reinforcing the political and military efforts in the DRC towards building lasting peace and stability in the country.

I note, with concern, that recent developments including, open hostilities, create a serious threat to the success of the regional leadership’s work including the promotion of outcomes of the Inter-Congolese (DRC) consultations of the Nairobi Process. The hostilities in particular threaten to undermine the ongoing political process (the political track) aimed at addressing the security situation as provided for under the 21st April 2022 Communiqué;

I, therefore, call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in the Eastern DRC and for all armed groups, both foreign and local, to lay down arms immediately and unconditionally and to commit to a political process.

I further call for the declaration of Ituri, North Kivu (Bunagana, Bugusa, most parts of Petit Nord, Masisi, Lubero, Beni-Kasindi main axis) and South Kivu provinces as a WEAPONS FREE ZONE, where any individual or group carrying weapons outside the official and legally deployed and mandated forces in the country will be disarmed. In doing so, I call for the ACTIVATION of the East African Regional Force under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC). The Regional Force is a component of the military/security enforcement track also provided for in the Communiqué adopted on 21st April 2022.

In this regard, the meeting of the regional Commanders of the respective Defence Forces, cooperating in the Nairobi Process, scheduled for Sunday 19th June 2022, in Nairobi, should finalize preparations to undertake the deployment of the Regional Force.

The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to STABILIZE the zone and ENFORCE peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO. The Regional Force will work with local provincial authorities to support an orderly and permanent disarmament process under the Programme de Desarmement, Demobilisation, Relevement Communautaire et Stabilisation (P-DDRCS) in order to create enabling conditions towards stability and peace in the eastern DRC.

I appreciate the diplomatic and political support that the Inter-DRC consultations (the Nairobi Process) has received from the international community including the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and bilateral partners.

I also thank the partners for demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful outcome and urge them to remain engaged and supportive moving forward.

UHURU KENYATTA

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND

CHAIRMAN OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

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