As Kinshasa’s government forces fight the M23 rebels, the European Union is once again accusing Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of rejecting ideas of regional peace initiatives.
In a statement released on Thursday, the European Union urged that M23, the DRC, and Rwanda adhere to regional peace initiatives and put down their weapons.
The European Union asserted that all armed groups must leave the areas they control and participate in the processes of demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration. The European body accused the DRC of continuing to work with other armed groups while blaming Rwanda for encouraging M23.
The EU said in a statement that it “condemns their violent actions and urges Rwanda to cease its support for the M23 and to use all available pressure to persuade the M23 to withdraw from the occupied areas, as agreed upon by the East African Community heads of state and government on February 9.
Assaults against civilians
The Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in particular, have repeatedly attacked civilians in North Kivu and Ituri. The EU had accused Rwanda in December of inciting uprisings in the eastern DRC by arming and backing the M23, allegations that Kigali refuted. The EU stated on Thursday that both the Luanda and Nairobi peace processes, which are both overseen by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, require help.M23 withdrawal.
Both military and diplomatic options are being sought by the Nairobi Process. Military leaders from the East African Community suggested that the M23 start withdrawing from February 28. According to Christophe Lutundula, the deputy prime minister for foreign affairs of the DRC, The new withdrawal schedule and the new deployment strategy for troops from EAC member countries are currently just proposals.
He stated that “We are paying close attention to this, and anything that hinders the republic’s ability to properly assert its sovereignty, protect its territorial integrity, or preserve the nation’s independence won’t be accepted. “We will continue to interpret the text’s content, as well as its overall tone and spirit.” “We are paying close attention to it,” he continued.
Deployment of EAC forces
The quick deployment of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) and the continuation of an open dialogue were also supported by the European Union. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which the deployment is required to adhere to, has not yet been officially recognized by the Congolese government.
Lutundula stated that “We won’t leave anything out when we assess the SOFA.” I can assure you that we won’t think twice about ending” “Our opinion is that we need to keep reviewing the SOFA,”.
The sides continue to fight, forcing citizens to escape in large numbers, in spite of this blueprint, which was signed on November 23, 2022, and the pleadings of heads of state. The European Union stated that “the various parties’ failure to follow through on their agreements and decisions, as well as the ongoing fighting, particularly in the area around Goma, is escalating a dreadful humanitarian situation.”
Despite its criticism of Kigali’s role in the crisis, the EU renewed its refugee holding program with Rwanda last week so that Kigali could continue to assist in housing refugees who had been evacuated from Libya as they awaited being processed to other countries. Three years are allotted for the program.