The heads of state in the region have demanded that all parties to the conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo immediately stop fighting. As Congo and its neighboring country, Rwanda, accuse each other of helping armed rebels, tensions are rising in the area, and people are talking about going to war.
The communique calling for a truce was released at the conclusion of the East African Community (EAC) meeting, which took place in Burundi. Peter Mathuki, who serves as the Secretary General of the EAC, issued the following statement: “There must be an immediate ceasefire by all political parties.”
In regards to this, he stated, “The withdrawal will include all foreign armed groups, and I have directed the chiefs of defense forces of all of the partner states of the East African Community to meet urgently within the next one week and set new timelines for the withdrawal as well as recommend an appropriate deployment matrix in different parts of eastern DRC.”
The calls stem from the widespread fear that the two countries could once again descend into full-scale warfare, as they did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A month ago, Rwandan forces attacked a military plane from the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was said to have been in Rwandan airspace without permission.
According to what Mathuki said, “The chiefs of state called for parties to respect and implement all the summit’s decisions.” The heads of state also agreed among themselves that any further violations should be notified immediately, and the summit will now assume care of this process.
Congo has been accusing Rwanda of aiding the armed organization known as M23, which has its roots in the ethnic conflict in the region, for several months now, and influential voices in the West have openly concurred with this assessment. Rwanda has stated that it does not support the M23, which is one of dozens of rebel groups now operating in the mineral-rich eastern Congo, and has accused Congo of supporting another rebel organization.