The facilitator of the East African Community (EAC)-led peace process for DR Congo, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for a “non-military solution” to the conflict between Kinshasa and the M23 rebels.
Kenyatta’s call for peace follows the resumption of hostilities on October 1, 2013, which spread to Kitshanga, Kibumba and Kilorirwe, among other parts of North Kivu Province.
A statement released by Kenyatta’s office on Tuesday, October 10, says the facilitator “condemns the reported escalation of hostilities, killings and displacements in eastern [DR Congo].”
Kenyatta is the AU-Kenya peace envoy and facilitator of the EAC-led Nairobi peace process.
His statement reads: “The Facilitator appeals to all parties engaged in such acts to immediately cease their armed offensives and hostilities, so as to allow continued unhindered and sustained humanitarian access and to give a chance to a return to peace and the pursuit of a non-military solution to the crisis in the region through the EAC Led Nairobi Peace Process.”
The resumption of hostilities in eastern DR Congo, where the Congolese army and the M23 rebels have fought since November 2021, got regional leaders concerned about the escalation.
Military leaders from four regional communities met on October 6, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the crisis in eastern DR Congo. The meeting, held under the auspices of the African Union, supported a political solution and urged the parties to come to the negotiating table.
DR Congo’s government has ruled out any possibility of peace talks with the rebels.
In November 2022, the EAC deployed a regional force to DR Congo to observe a ceasefire between the Congolese armed forces and M23 rebels.
The ceasefire has been fragile, with both parties accusing each other of breaking it.
In a statement on Tuesday, M23 spokesperson Laurence Kanyuka accused the Congolese armed forces of launching “genocide-motivated attacks” in Kitshanga.
Kanyuka said the Congolese government sought “to jeopardise the peace process.”
Eastern DR Congo is home to more than 130 armed groups.
The region has been volatile for nearly 30 years, with a number of regional and international interventions failing to end the decades of violence.
The alliance between top Congolese military officers and a collection of armed groups, including the FDLR, a UN-sanctioned genocidal group based in eastern DR Congo for close to three decades, has been of particular concern to Kigali.
When the Rwanda Patriotic Army took over power and stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi, in July 1994, the ousted genocidal regime’s army (ex-FAR), politicians, and Interahamwe militia that had committed Genocide – runaway, en masse, with their weapons, to eastern DR Congo, then known as Zaire. They later banded together into what they called the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR). In 2000, soon after the US government listed it as a terrorist organization following its murder of American tourists in Uganda’s Bwindi forest, they formed FDLR so as to evade or distance themselves from their horrendous crimes.
Formed, in May 2000, the genocidal militia group is at the heart of the insecurity affecting eastern DR Congo and the region.