Nairobi — Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed concern over the escalating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In a joint communique, the former Head of State and the East African Community (EAC) urged parties to halt skirmishes and commit to the Nairobi-led talks.
“The EAC also condemns the escalating situation in parts of South Kivu and call on all negative elements and armed groups to cease armed actions, voluntarily lay down their arms and participate in the Nairobi Process and the National Disarmament and Demobilization Programme,” the statement indicated.
African Union officials on Sunday appealed for an end to the growing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a day after rebels made further progress there and Kinshasa expelled Rwanda’s ambassador.
In their statement on Sunday, the AU officials called for an immediate ceasefire.
All parties, they said, should “respect international law, the safety and security of civilians and the stability at the borders of all countries in the region”.
The DR Congo government said on Saturday it was expelling Kigali’s envoy over what it said was Rwanda’s backing for the M23 rebels making fresh inroads in the east of the country.
Rwanda, which denies the accusation, on Sunday expressed regret at the decision, adding that its troops at the two countries’ border were on “high alert”.
The AU on Sunday urged all the parties to engage “in a constructive dialogue” to ensure peace in the troubled region, calling them to peace talks in Nairobi next month.
Angola’s President Joao Lourenco said he would dispatch his Foreign Minister Tete Antonio to DR Congo to mediate the dispute.
But Kinshasa’s announcement late Saturday suggests they have lost patience with regional mediation efforts.
In recent days “a massive arrival of elements of the Rwandan element to support the M23 terrorists” against DR Congo’s troops had been observed, said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.
Condemning what he described as a “criminal and terrorist” adventure, he announced the expulsion of Rwanda’s envoy Vincent Karega.
Hours earlier, reports had come in that the M23 rebels had seized more territory in the vast mineral-rich DRC, prompting the UN peacekeeping mission to increase its “troop alert level” and boost support for the army.