EAC Presidents Issue Fresh Ceasefire Order in Eastern DR Congo

Heads of States under the East African Community (EAC) have re-directed the immediate cease-fire of all parties in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to pave way for smooth peace deals.       

The heads of state issued the directive on Saturday at the 20th extra-Ordinary Summit of EAC Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura aimed at restoring peace and security in Eastern DR Congo.       

Six Heads of Member States that took part in the summit are;  Evariste Ndahishimiye of Burundi, Félix Antoinne Tshisekedi from DR Congo, Paul Kagame from Rwanda, William Rutho from Kenya, Yoweri Museveni Kaguta from Uganda and Samia Suluhu Hassan from Tanzania. Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan was represented by his Minister for East African Community Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol.       

The eastern part of DR Congo is battling the insecurity occasioned by more than 100 armed groups. But the government has come out to mostly decry the impact March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and accused Rwanda of backing the group.  

M23 which has captured several positions in Rutshuru, Nyiragongo, and Masisi territories including Uganda-DR Congo main borders of Bunagana and Busanza strongly denies the Rwanda backing accusations. The rebel group instead claims that it is fighting the DR Congo government that rules based on xenophobia, tribalism, and corruption among others.       

In a press statement released on Saturday night, the heads of state directed for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, withdrawal including all foreign armed groups, and directed the chiefs of defense forces to meet within one week and set new timelines for the withdrawal and recommend appropriate deployment matrix.         

According to the statement, heads of state also directed that the withdrawal process should be accompanied by dialogue and violations should be reported to the chairperson of the summit for immediate consultation with members of the summit.   

The heads of state also directed all troop-contributing countries to immediately deploy and urged DR Congo to immediately facilitate the deployment of troops from the republic of South Sudan and the republic of Uganda to the East African regional force.       

The heads of state also called upon all parties to respect and implement decisions of the summit and obligations agreed upon in previous meetings of heads of state and other established instruments on the restoration of peace and security in eastern DR Congo.

The recent four days of fierce fighting left M23 rebels advancing from Kitchanga town and capturing villages of Burungu, Rushebeshe, Tebero – Nyamitaba , Kilolirwe, Bibatama, and Nturo in Masisi territory.       

The summit has happened at a time when M23 rebels are close to capturing the town of Sake and Sake Goma road. M23 rebels accuse the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) of collaborating with militia groups of Mai Mai, Nyatura, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and Congolese Patriotic Resistance Fighters / Strike Force (Résistants Patriotes Congolais/Force de frappe- PARECO/FF) with an argument that they have a genocide ideology.

But a lull was observed on Saturday with both belligerents maintaining their positions. 

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