Local community leaders, civil society organizations, and some of the armed groups operating in eastern Congo are participating in this week's peace discussion facilitated by the East African Community bloc (EAC).
The bloc’s peace envoy to the DRC, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said the aim was to discuss political process and institutional reforms that will ensure an environment that is conducive for the disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration of armed groups in the DRC.
“To also deepen the consultation of communities and armed groups from the concerned areas for the greater inclusivity and greater ownership of the process, including for the first time with the representatives from Maniema and Tanganyika, and identification of root causes of the conflict in the five provinces and finally to evaluate the concrete modalities for the restoration of state authority in each province,” Kenyatta said.
Kenya's President William Ruto, who attended the Monday opening session in person, called for adopting "the effective engagement of regional and international dispute resolution mechanisms,” reiterating his country "unwavering support until peace is achieved."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who joined the conference virtually along with presidents of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, said Congo’s problems can be solved but all communities must be involved in the peace process.
“The internal groups of Congo come from the weakening of the state authority in that area for a prolonged period but even this problem can be solved by combining the political method, i.e. dialogue, with military method,” Museveni said.
Armed groups fighting for control of the lucrative mines in the eastern DRC are a contributing factor in the region's bloodshed.
Contingent troops from neighboring nations have been deployed to eastern DRC to pursue rebel groups they claim are attempting to destabilize their nations.
Recently, the Congolese army has been fighting with the rebel group M23, which it accuses of receiving military support from Rwanda, an accusation denied by Kigali.
The M23 agreed to a cease-fire last week during talks in Angola but said they will not withdraw from territories captured from the Congolese army.
The DRC said it will hold presidential and parliamentary votes by December 2023 and the electoral commission said it will stick to the deadlines despite the threat of armed groups.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press. Mohammed Yusuf also contributed to this report.