Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for the deployment of a regional force to restore security in the troubled eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a statement, he also called for an “immediate cessation of all hostilities for all armed groups, both foreign and local, to lay down arms immediately and unconditionally” amid heavy fighting in recent weeks.
The East African Regional Force is to be deployed immediately to Ituri, North and South Kivu regions to enforce peace in co-ordination with resident UN forces (Monusco), he said.
He added that a meeting of the East African countries’ defence forces commanders on Sunday in Nairobi “should” finalise preparations for the deployment.
The decision to establish the regional force was made in April when Mr Kenyatta, the current East African Community chairman, hosted regional presidents over the DR Congo crisis that also threatens neigbouring countries.
More than 100 local and foreign groups operate in South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri provinces and have destabilised the region for more than two decades.
Since March, fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels has displaced more than 80,000 people.
DR Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting the group made up of mainly ethnic Congolese Tutsi, but the government in Kigali denies the accusations.