EAC Heads of State commit to ending DRC conflict

Kenya– East African community (EAC) Heads of State have committed to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This was during a Septet Summit and 3rd Conclave of the East African Community convened in Nairobi on Monday by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on the peace and security situation in the Eastern part of DRC.

The Summit was attended by the President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) Paul Kagame (Rwanda) Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan) Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo (DRC) and Evariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi). The President of Tanzania was represented by Amb. Dr. John Steven Simbachawene, High Commissioner of Tanzania to Kenya.

The Heads of State deliberated on the security situation in the eastern DRC and on measures to promote peace, stability and development in the eastern DRC and the greater east African region.

They committed to contribute to reconciliation and lasting peace and determined to find a swift and lasting solution to the conflict in DRC, particularly in the North and South Kivu as well as Ituri Provinces.

They appreciated the supremacy of the constitution of the DRC and committed to maintain a unified and secure country, with coherence and credible institutions of central government exercising full territorial authority and recognizing that peaceful means are the best way to resolve conflicts.

The conclave commenced with a detailed brief on the military track. The brief was presented by the Chief of Defence Forces of Kenya, General Robert Kibochi, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Committee of East African Community Chiefs of Defence Forces.

This followed a meeting of the Chiefs of Defense Forces on Sunday 19th 3 June 2022 in Nairobi. In attendance were the Chiefs of Defence Forces of all the seven countries of the EAC Partner States.

The brief defined the problem, highlighted the threat analysis, Concept of Operations (CONOPs), Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Rules of Engagement (ROE) and other legal and technical regulations to facilitate the operationalization of the Regional Force and its various operational arms.

The Heads of State accepted and adopted the CONOPs, SOFA and ROE as presented by the Chiefs of Defence Forces for immediate implementation. In doing so, the Heads of State instructed that the Regional Force should in cooperation with the military and administrative forces of the DRC seek to stabilize and secure the peace in the DRC. The Regional Force should also cooperate in implementation of the disarmament and demobilization process.

The Regional Force which will be constituted as an East African Community force under the EAC Protocol on Peace and Security and the EAC Treaty Article 124 on regional peace and security and Article 125 on cooperation in defence. The Regional Force received its operational mandate and detailed its operational structure for the 4 Heads of State. In attendance at the brief was the Executive Secretary of the EAC.

The conclave received a written brief on the political track of the Nairobi process which detailed actions and activities that have been undertaken since the last convening of the second Conclave including the convening of the consultations with various armed and rebel groups within the DRC as a follow up to the consultations undertaken by the DRC with the rebel groups in Nairobi.

The Heads of State directed that an immediate ceasefire should be enforced and cessation of hostilities should commence immediately, including withdrawal from recently taken positions. In doing so, the political process should be intensified by all parties in order to allow the citizens of the DRC feel safe and secure and be able to pick up and continue their respective social, cultural and economic activities.

The conclave agreed and reinforced that trust and confidence-building, cessation of hostilities, unconditional ceasefire, participation in the political processes in the country, prioritization and participation in the country’s development, citizenship, presence of foreign negative 5 elements, fate of combatants during reintegration and status of refugees and internally displaced persons are among critical issues that require concerted, urgent and durable resolution.

The Heads of State also emphasized that all offensive language, hate speech, threats of genocide and other politically inciting language must cease and must be discouraged by all parties and that the people of the DRC must be encouraged to work together in order to stabilize the eastern DRC for it to prosper.

At the close of the conclave President Salva kiir Mayardit took the opportunity to brief the meeting on the most recent and important developments in the political process in South Sudan.

 The leaders thanked President Uhuru kenyatta for his convening and hosting of the third Conclave and thanked His Excellency Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the DRC for taking the regional route in his determination to resolve the peace and security situation in the east of the DRC.