President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his capacity as EAC chairman, has declared war on rebels in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a statement on Wednesday, President Kenyatta ordered for the activation of the East African Regional Force under the auspices of the East African Community.
“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,” Kenyatta said in the statement.
The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilise the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO, the UN peace keeping force..
Kenyatta added that 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.
The move, he noted, had been necessitated by recent developments including, open hostilities, which create a “serious threat” to the success 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,” Kenyatta noted.
He further called 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, BeniKasindi 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,” he added.
He recalled the April meeting in which he hosted the Second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo in Nairobi which was attended by Presidents Félix Tshisekedi (DRC) Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Rwanda Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, who represented President Paul Kagame.
In the meeting, they discussed 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,” he said.
He urged 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 appreciate the diplomatic and political support that the InterDRC 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,” he concluded.