Kenyatta appeals for end to escalating DR Congo violence

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 DR Congo 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.

DR Congo vs Rwanda

The statement was released a day after Rwanda fired at a fighter jet from the DR Congo 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 DR Congo — 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.

ALSO READ: DR Congo Tutsis face threats, prejudice amid rebel crisis

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. 

More attacks

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.

ALSO READ: ‘I decided to run’: Survivors recount escape from DR Congo massacre

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 DR Congo, 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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