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East Africa: Deteriorating security in Democratic Republic of Congo takes centre stage in EA community retreat

Foreign Ministers and East African Community ministers have expressed deep concern over the deterioration of peace and security in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where armed conflicts have exacerbated humanitarian crises.

Ministers meeting for a three-day retreat in Zanzibar stressed the imperative of a political process as a path to sustainable peace in eastern DRC and recommended convening an EAC Heads of State Summit to revitalize the political track of the Nairobi-led peace process in coordination with the Luanda process.

“The situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has deteriorated and human life has worsened due to the ongoing war,” the ministers acknowledged in a joint statement issued at the end of the retreat.

The Ministers welcomed a humanitarian truce brokered by the United States and recommended its indefinite extension, underlining the collective commitment to alleviate the plight of affected populations.

Ministers stressed the need to institutionalize peace support operations within the East African Community.

According to the statement, they also agreed on the urgent need to finalize the East African Community Mutual Defence Pact and operationalize the EAC Peace and Security Ministers’ Council.

This measure is intended to ensure timely guidance on peace and security issues.

The Ministers also took note of the state of inter-state relations and their adverse impact on the integration agenda and encouraged partner states to use existing frameworks provided for in the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community to address inter-state disputes.

“To this end, the Ministers of the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to meet as soon as possible within the framework of the Luanda process, while the Ministers of Rwanda and Burundi will meet on 31 October this year to discuss outstanding issues affecting their bilateral relations,” reads part of the statement.