By Oyintari Ben
According to the East African Community (EAC) bloc, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame have reached an understanding regarding the necessity for M23 rebels to halt hostilities and withdraw from territories they have seized in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Kenyatta and Kagame spoke over the phone and concurred “on the necessity for a quick ceasefire,” according to a statement released by the EAC on Friday. Next week, a second round of negotiations will take place in Luanda, the capital of Angola.
M23 insurgents have advanced towards Goma in recent weeks as fighting with government soldiers has become more intense.
After being established in 2012, the M23 rebels seized substantial areas of land and temporarily took control of Goma before being driven out into Uganda and Rwanda the following year by Congolese and UN forces.
Many of the M23’s militants joined the DRC army when the group signed a peace agreement in 2013.
After lying inactive for years, the armed gang resumed warfare in late 2021.
Since March, they have launched three major offensives; the most recent, which began at the end of October, has resulted in hundreds of fatalities and approximately 200,000 displaced persons.
Diplomatic tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of supporting the rebels, were sparked by the upheaval. Rwanda disputes the charge. A Rwandan ambassador was expelled from the DRC last month due to the issue.
There are regional initiatives underway to improve ties between the two nations and put an end to the border dispute.