EAC Heads of State want all armed groups out of DR Congo by April

EAC Heads of State in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 36th African Union Summit. [EAC, Twiter]

East African Community (EAC) Heads of State have ordered the withdrawal of all armed groups in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by March 30, 2023.

The Heads of State are pitching camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the African Union (AU) Summit on regional peace and security.

In a communique on Friday, February 17, the leaders also recommended the immediate cessation of hostilities in the conflict-hit region and directed the resettlement of internally displaced persons.

“The Heads of State noted the presence of refugees in Rwanda and Uganda and recommended their repatriation to DRC,” part of the communique read.

President William Ruto is in Ethiopia’s capital for the 36th AU Summit and is expected to echo Kenya’s role in finding solutions to the security situation in the DRC.

The mini-summit on the state of peace and security in DRC was convened by Angolan President João Lourenço, alongside EAC Chair and Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, DRC’S Felix Tshisekedi, Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Uganda Vice President Jessica Alupo, and South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs attended Friday’s dialogue.

This comes in the back of escalating tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, now closing in on a year since fighting broke between Congolese and Rwandan forces, leaving thousands displaced and several others dead.

The conflict has been linked to an offensive in the eastern Congolese province of North Kivu.

Last month, Rwanda accused a Congolese fighter jet of violating its airspace near Goma, a town in DRC. 

Kinshasa described the attack as “a deliberate act of aggression that equals an act of war.”