East Africa bloc announces peace talks for eastern DR Congo

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East African leaders announced peace talks in a bid to stabilise eastern DR Congo, where M23 rebels clashed with troops just north of the key city of Goma over the weekend.

The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) stated that it would hold a “peace dialogue” on eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on November 21, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The announcement came as Congolese troops clashed anew with the M23 north of the volatile region’s main city Goma, officials said.

Army sources said the military had engaged the M23 in Mwaro, a village about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the important commercial hub of one million people. “We woke up to fighting this morning,” one army official told.

Another said the situation was complex, with M23 fighters killed “en masse” but with dead on the Congolese army’s side too. Deadly clashes lasted until Sunday night at Kibumba, another settlement about 20 kilometres from Goma, according to local residents and security officials.

M23 rebels have recently surged across the DRC’s North Kivu province, winning a string of victories against the army and capturing swathes of territory. On Saturday, the group accused the Congolese army of retaliating with “barbarian bombings” — killing 15 civilians, including two children.

The latest violence comes one day after Kenyan troops were deployed to eastern DRC, as part of a peacekeeping operation from the EAC bloc.

A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before being driven out and going to ground.

The group re-emerged in late 2021, taking up arms again on claims that the DRC had failed to honour a promise to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.—INP

 

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