Kenya appears to have won in DRC without even firing a single shot after presumed M23 donor Paul Kagame who wouldn’t blink during intense head-to-head negotiations with other regional leaders lent a listening ear to retired president Uhuru Kenyatta.
A messy, costly and strenuous clash that appeared to be approaching fast with each step that the M23 rebels took towards the Eastern Congo town of Goma seems to have been avoided after Paul Kagame folded and gave in to last minute demands from the Kenyan side negotiator, Mr. Kenyatta.
Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame have agreed on the need for M23 rebels to cease fire and withdraw from captured territories in east Congo, the East African Community (EAC) bloc has said.
M23 rebels have waged several offensives in east Congo this year, their first major come-back since 2012, prompting clashes with the army that have displaced thousands of civilians since March.
The unrest ignited diplomatic tensions between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda, which Congo accuses of backing the group. Rwanda denies the accusation.
Regional efforts are under way to ease relations between the two countries and end the conflict unfolding along their border.
Kenyatta visited Congo this week as facilitator for the seven-member EAC and African Union peace envoy.
He had meetings in Kinshasa and visited displaced people in the key eastern city of Goma, to which the M23 drew closer this week.
Upon his return, Kenyatta and Kagame both agreed via telephone “on the need for an immediate ceasefire”, the EAC said in a statement.
Kagame also agreed to assist Kenyatta in urging the M23 to lay down arms and withdraw from captured territories, the statement added.
Modalities will be discussed during a second round of talks in Angola’s capital Luanda next week, it said.
Angola’s President Joao Lourenco mediated a first meeting between Congo and Rwanda officials earlier this month.
“It is encouraging to see Paul Kagame recognize that he can influence the M23,” Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi’s deputy spokesperson said.
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