Armed groups and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo will hold a next session of peace talks in January in eastern DRC, after three initial meetings in Kenya, the Community of East African States announced on December 6. (EAC). This statement was made at the end of the third session of the “inter-congolese dialogue“. For eight days, representatives of some fifty armed groups, government and civil society met in Nairobi, Kenya.
The M23 rebellion, which is carrying out an offensive in the east of the country and which Kinshasa describes as a movement “terrorist“, does not participate in these discussions. “UA meeting will be held in January in Goma and Bunia to assess the progress (achieved) and begin to address the medium and long term agenda“said the EAC, which is mediating the talks, in a statement.
The participants also repeated their agreement to a “maintenance of a cessation of hostilities as well as the release of child soldiers and access for humanitarian aid“, adds the organization. “We are satisfied with the progress we have made. We’re not saying we’re done, but we’ve passed some milestones“explains, without further details, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who works as “facilitatorof the Nairobi process.
We will be able to report on the progress on the points on which we have agreed here.Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya
“I hope that when we meet again in Goma – this should be between January and February – we can report progress on the points we have agreed on here“, adds the president of Kenya.
A resurgence of tension
This third meeting is taking place as the eastern DRC is experiencing a resurgence of violence with an offensive by the M23, which Kinshasa accused on December 5 of having massacred around 300 civilians at the end of November. These battles are the subject of separate negotiations, hosted by Angola.
A former Tutsi rebellion defeated in 2013, the M23 took up arms again in November 2021 and in recent months has conquered large portions of territory north of Goma, capital of North Kivu province. The recent M23 offensive is fueling diplomatic tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, both members of the EAC.
Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of providing M23 with support that UN experts and US officials have also pointed out in recent months. Kigali disputes, accusing in return Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR, Rwandan Hutu rebels established in DR Congo since the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994 in Rwanda.
The EAC has been working to stabilize eastern DRC, which has been plagued by violence from more than 100 armed groups for almost 30 years. The seven member countries of the EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania) decided in June to send a regional force, which has begun to deploy.