Leaders agree on regional force to fight DRC rebels 

President Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta during the second heads of state conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo at State House, Nairobi, Kenya on April 21, 2022. PHOTO/ PSCU

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All foreign armed groups in DR Congo must disarm and return to their respective countries.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has agreed to the establishment of a regional force to fight armed groups in their eastern part of the country.
In a mini-summit comprising Uganda President Museveni, the Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Burundi’s Évariste Ndayishimiye, and Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister held in Nairobi, Kenya, the leaders said the regional force will be established immediately. 

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“The military/security enforcement track - pursuant to an agreement following the first Heads of State Conclave to accelerate the establishment of a regional force to help contain and, where necessary, fight the negative forces, the meeting directed the urgent deployment of such a force,” a communique released yesterday reads in part.
Uganda and Kenya have troops in the DR Congo that are fighting rebels.   
However, Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, and Burundi accused each other of having negative forces operating in eastern DR Congo. 
Rwanda also wanted to send troops to DR Congo, but DR Congo politicians rejected the proposal. 
In the new agreement, Rwanda’s forces will be part of the regional force. 

The leaders agreed that all armed groups in the DR Congo “participate unconditionally in the political process to resolve their grievances. That failure to do so, all Congolese armed groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region”.
The communique stated that “all foreign armed groups in the DR Congo must disarm and return unconditionally and immediately to their respective countries of origin and if they fail to do so, these groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region”.
The absence of President Kagame in person in the meeting also raises questions of whether Kigali believes in the new agreement. 

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Since the year started, President Kagame, who is so passionate about Rwanda rebels operating in eastern DR Congo, has skipped several meetings on regional security of the DR Congo. He has been sending representatives. 
However, the relationship between Uganda and Rwanda has improved which has led to the reopening of the border between the two countries. 

Uganda and DR Congo signed an agreement to have joint military operations in eastern DR Congo against the Allied Democratic Forces rebels.
Recently, the DR Congo accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels that attacked in the area of Tshanzu and Runyoni, eastern DR Congo near Bunagana border, which led to an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Uganda. 
Rwanda Defence Forces issued a statement that accused M23 rebels of crossing into DR Congo from Ugandan territory.

The M23 rebels agreed to a ceasefire with the DR Congo troops, which Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the commander of the Land Forces of the UPDF, described as a good thing. 
“Let the regional leaders @KagutaMuseveni, @PaulKagame and President Tshisekedi handle your issues politically,” Lt Gen Kainerugaba tweeted. 
The fighting between the M23 rebels and the DRC troops has affected the construction of the 90km road by a Ugandan construction company on the side of DR Congo. The road is expected to connect Uganda to Goma Town in DR Congo.

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