East Africa: Worsening Security in DRC Takes Centre Stage At EA Community Retreat

A community health worker walks through an IDP camp in North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (file photo).

MINISTERS of Foreign Affairs and East African Community Affairs have expressed deep concern over the deteriorating peace and security in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where armed conflicts have exacerbated humanitarian crises.

The ministers who gathered for a three-day retreat in Zanzibar highlighted the imperative of a political process as the pathway to sustainable peace in Eastern DRC and recommended convening of a summit of the EAC Heads of State to revitalize the political track of the Nairobi-led peace process in coordination with the Luanda process.

"The situation in Eastern DRC has deteriorated and worsened human existence occasioned by the ongoing war," the ministers acknowledged in a joint communique issued at the end of the retreat.

The Ministers welcomed a humanitarian truce brokered by the USA and recommended its indefinite extension, underscoring a collective commitment to easing the plight of affected populations.

The ministers emphasized the need to institutionalize peace support operations within the EasAfrican Community.

According to the communiqué, they also agreed on the urgent necessity to finalize the East African Community Mutual Defense Pact and operationalize the EAC Council of Ministers on Peace and Security.

That step is aimed at ensuring timely guidance on peace and security matters.

The ministers also took note of the state of interstate relations and the adverse impact on the integration agenda and encouraged the partner states to use existing frameworks provided for in the treaty for the establishment of the East African community to address interstate disputes.

"To this end, the ministers of the republic of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to meet at the earliest in the framework of the Luanda process, while the ministers of Rwanda and Burundi will meet by October 31st, this year to discuss outstanding issues affecting their bilateral relations," reads part of the communique.

The ministers reviewed the status of the implementation of the four integration pillars and emphasized the need for demonstration of political commitment and goodwill to ensure realization of goals for each pillar.

The Ministers also deliberated on the constraints of funding the community and the arrears, and recommended they be paid at the earliest by the partners states, she elaborated .

Further, the ministers deliberated on a sustainable funding mechanism for the community and recommended it be considered at a joint meeting of ministers of Finance, EAC and Foreign Affairs to explore additional options of funding in the community, and that the ministers noted the financing model adopted by the 23rd ordinary summit on 24th November 2023.

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