Panafrican News Agency

Congolese rebel factions meet for Nairobi peace talks

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Warring factions in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo kicked off the third session of their peace talks in Nairobi on Monday after a series of postponements in recent weeks.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Chairperson of the East African Community Summit and former president Uhuru Kenyatta, Facilitator of the Nairobi Process, attended the talks.

The talks kicked off after an escalation of the conflict in the Eastern DRC where the M23 rebellion forced the countries of the East African region to immediately deploy troops.

The M23 rebel groups had blocked key communication links and seized territory near Goma, a regional state capital as the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, which kicked off earlier, went on a pause.

"I welcome and commend all the participants for attending this critical meeting that presents an opportunity to seize history and turn the tide towards seeking a lasting solution to our region," Kenyan President William Ruto said when he opened the talks.

Ruto was encouraged by the progress made so far in facilitating dialogue, negotiation and the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the DRC.

Kenya reiterated its support for efforts that support diplomatic and necessary military solutions to the effective restoration of sustainable peace and stability in Eastern DRC.

"We emphasize that regional peace and security remains our collective enterprise," Ruto said.

The Kenyan President commended President Tshisekedi for his sustained dedication and commitment to peace, and the determined effort he has invested in endeavors to find a lasting solution to the security situation in the region.

"The inescapable die of geography ties us together in the EAC like Siamese twins. So long as DRC knows no peace, prospects for prosperity for the rest of the EAC and Africa will remain dim and reversible," Ruto said.

Kenyan military contingents have been deployed to the region to help keep peace amid the escalation of the war. In an effort to stop the escalation of the conflict, former President Kenyatta travelled to the region to impress upon the warring parties to stop the hostilities.

Kenyatta decried the suffering caused by the conflict to millions of civilians forced to live as internal refugees in camps. The former president also held direct talks with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, calling for a ceasefire.

During the past few months, tension remains high between DRC and Rwanda, with Kigali accusing Kinshasa of sending military aircraft over its airspace and both sides cutting diplomatic relations over the Eastern DRC crisis.

"Instability and insecurity in the DRC will be relentless in undermining human development and holistic progress in and beyond the Great Lakes," Ruto said.

"It is not only limiting the potential of our region in terms of trade and investment, but also denigrating the dignity of our people, causing suffering, displacement and death," Ruto stated.

The security situation in Eastern DRC continues to be of great concern. Ruto welcomed the deployment of the East African Community Regional Force.

The Kenyan leader said it should be recognized that the operational environment of the force remained charged with threats.

"This demands closer cooperation and greater capacity to collaborate with other regional and international partners to effectively counter the threat that various armed groups and negative elements continue to pose," Ruto said.

"We are here to emphasize the urgent need for dialogue, de-escalation, and to encourage and facilitate every actor to intensify their pursuit through the effective engagement of regional and international dispute resolution mechanisms. We also encourage regional states to maintain their commitment to existing regional bilateral as well as multilateral understandings.

"We reiterate the vital importance of utilizing approved frameworks and engaging positively to address all issues, disagreements, misunderstandings and concerns in order to sustain and enhance mutual benefit," Ruto said.

He hailed the efforts of the East African region in finding a solution to the crisis.

"This effort towards the restoration of peace and the promising start is significantly due to the support and dedication of the Chairperson of the EAC President Ndayishimiye," Ruto said.

The shared values at the foundation of the East Africa Community also anchor the strong bonds connecting the nations and peoples of the greater community, Ruto said.

"It is self-evident the fact that our region is united by a common yearning for peace, hope for unity, quest for opportunity and desire for shared prosperity. The people of Kenya are deeply invested in the destiny of our brothers and sisters throughout the region, and as a government, it is our duty to actualize their aspirations by participating in frameworks that enhance our collective prospects for peace, security, social and economic progress," he stated.

-0- PANA AO/RA 28Nov.2022