East African leaders demand ceasefire between Congo, Rwanda
Regional heads of state have called for an immediate ceasefire by all parties in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tensions there have grown amid talk of war as Congo and neighbouring Rwanda trade allegations of backing armed rebels.
The ceasefire call was issued in a communique at the end of the East African Community (EAC) summit in Burundi.
Secretary General of the EAC, Peter Mathuki, said, “There must be immediate ceasefire by all political parties”.
He added, “The withdraw including all foreign armed groups and directed the chief of defence forces of all the partner’s states of East African Community to meet urgently within the next one week and set new timelines for the withdrawal and the commend appropriate deployment matrix in different parts of eastern DRC.”
The calls follow international concern the two countries could slide into all-out conflict, as they did in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Last month Rwanda fired on a Congolese military aircraft it alleged violated its airspace.
Mathuki said, “The heads of state called upon parties to respect and implement all the summits decisions and agreed upon themselves that any again violation should be reported immediately and the summit now will take the charge of this process.”
Congo for months has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 armed group whose origins lie in the region’s ethnic fighting and powerful voices in the West have openly agreed.
Rwanda denies backing the M23, which is one of dozens operating in mineral-rich eastern Congo, and accuses Congo of backing another rebel group.