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"DRC Intervention Now!" - Kenyatta

FILE: Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta (L) talks with military authorities upon his arrival in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on November 15, 2021.

Kenya's former President Uhuru Kenyatta called on Wednesday for urgent intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting between the army and M23 rebels has flared again in the last week causing hundreds to flee their homes

Kenyatta's statement came as he was visiting Congo as regional bloc East African Community (EAC) facilitator and African Union peace envoy, aiming to cool tensions between the two countries, and end the conflict unfolding along their shared border.

Kenyatta's work has been "severely hampered by the unfolding dreadful humanitarian crisis in and around Goma", Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

The M23 insurgents have staged a major offensive this year, seizing territory and sparking a diplomatic row between Congo and Rwanda.

Kenyatta said rebel groups and their backers had not honored pledges, made at peace talks earlier this year in Nairobi, to remain in their positions.

Congo accuses Rwanda of backing the M23, an allegation supported by "solid evidence" according to U.N. experts. Kigali firmly denies any involvement.

Despite billions of dollars spent on one of the U.N.'s largest peacekeeping forces, more than 100 armed groups continue to operate across large swathes of eastern DRC.

Earlier this month Kenya deployed an unknown number of troops to eastern DRC to join an East African regional force tasked with ending decades of bloodshed.

Jeff Nyagah, the Kenyan commander of the new EAC force, said the diplomatic process was the priority, alongside disarmament and demobilisation of armed groups.

"If those two tracks fail, we will of course use the force during a joint operation with the (DRC army)," he told a news conference in Goma.