Hope for peace in DRC as high-profile talks kick off in Nairobi


President William Ruto (right), his Burundi counterpart Évariste Ndayishimiye and retired President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Safari Park hotel.

Photo credit: PCS

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has expressed hope that the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can be resolved if the processes involved get to the root causes.

Speaking by video link during the East African Community-led Nairobi peace talks, President Kagame attributed the decades-long conflict to unimplemented past agreements initiated to facilitate peace in the mineral-rich region.

"I would like to express my appreciation to President William Ruto and the East African facilitator former President Uhuru Kenyatta for dedicating sufficient time and energy to this problem, which has a complicated and long history but is nonetheless solvable," he said.

He added: "I most sincerely believe that these efforts are going to bear good results."

The negotiations that began Monday will run until Saturday and will involve local communities, leaders, civil society groups and the government.

They form the third intervention of the Nairobi inter-Congolese peace process that also brought together the heads of EAC member states, representatives from the African Union, the UN and diplomats from several countries.

President William Ruto referred to the talks as the assignment of a lifetime for EAC member states and pledged Kenya's commitment to the course until the DRC crisis is resolved.

Because of the conflict

"While other countries are holding huge conferences to discuss trade and investment, our people are in tents because of the conflict. This must end," he said.

Mr Kenyatta confirmed that many armed groups have eased hostilities since the negotiations began, thus enabling the war-affected communities to access humanitarian aid, but warned that others were yet to do so.

He urged EAC member countries yet to deploy their troops to do so, in line with an agreement reached by leaders of the bloc.

Burundi and Kenya have sent their troops and Uganda is expected to deploy its soldiers in the coming weeks.

South Sudan has sent its staffing officers ahead of its soldiers' deployment in the coming month.

Both Rwanda and Uganda said they want the conflict resolved to reduce the pressure of refugees as EAC member states hope to end the conflict so as to allow seamless trade in the region.

President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda was ready to play her part in ending the conflict and called on other EAC member states to combine efforts so that the bloc does not miss another chance to bring lasting peace to eastern Congo.

"No force can defy the combined force of East Africa," he said.