Kenyatta appeals for end to escalating DR Congo violence

The Democratic Republic of Congo Sukhoi-25 fighter jet that was shot in the Rwanda airspace on January 24, 2023. Photo/courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Kenyatta is mediating in the conflict in the volatile region on behalf of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc
  • The DRC -- along with the United States and several European countries -- has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels, although Kigali denies the charge.

Kenya's former leader Uhuru Kenyatta appealed Wednesday for an end to violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, whose mounting problems have sparked diplomatic tensions between the DRC and Rwanda.

Kenyatta is mediating in the conflict in the volatile region on behalf of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc. 

He "expressed deep concern over the sharply deteriorating situation" in North Kivu where fighting has broken out "between various armed groups, the Armed Forces of the (Democratic) Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the M23," his office said in a statement.

The statement was released a day after Rwanda fired at a fighter jet from the DRC that the government in Kigali claimed had violated its airspace. 

Kinshasa denied one of its aircraft had flown over Rwanda, and accused Kigali of an attack on the jet that it said amounted to "an act of war."

The DRC -- along with the United States and several European countries -- has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels, although Kigali denies the charge.

Kenyatta made no reference to the warplane incident but called for "cessation of all hostilities" and adherence to peace talks in the Angolan capital Luanda and Kenya's Nairobi that unlocked a truce. 

"Expressing serious concerns for the targeted killings of civilians by armed groups and thousands of internally displaced people resulting from the two days of fighting in the region, the facilitator has once again called for the cessation of all hostilities," the statement said. 

Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) fighters killed at least 23 people in Beni area of North Kivu province at the weekend, local officials said on Monday. 

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which has designated the ADF as its central African affiliate.

A week earlier on January 15, suspected ADF operatives detonated a bomb in a church in North Kivu, killing at least 14 people and injuring 63.

Scores of armed groups roam the east of the mineral-rich DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars at the end of the 20th century that claimed millions of lives. 

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