East African heads of state have called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the several rebel groups fighting in its eastern region.
At a meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the leaders also directed that rebel groups relinquish all territory they hold, and that peace negotiations be intensified.
Regional army chiefs also briefed the presidents on operational procedures and rules of engagement for an East African military force, which is soon to be deployed to DR Congo’s restive North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
The meeting also condemned recent incidents of hate speech and attacks on certain ethnicities in DR Congo, allegedly sparked by accusations from DR Congo that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebels.
The M23, one of many groups based in North Kivu, first emerged around 2012 and claims to be fighting for the rights of Congolese ethnic Tutsis. Clashes between them and government forces have escalated since March, and last week, they captured Bunagana border town.