Kenya has asked to be part of a new United Nations initiative to end an outbreak of fresh violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Leaders of member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region accepted Kenya’s formal request to be part of the peace agreement at a special summit in Nairobi on Wednesday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had said Kenya was also affected by the violence in Eastern Congo and that the region’s security required the participation of all countries, including Kenya. The President said the conflict had affected the economies of stable countries such as Kenya.
“Kenya is deeply concerned about the fresh outbreak of violence in North Kivu, which has initiated a fresh humanitarian crisis in the region,” he said.
In a calculated jab at both Rwanda and Uganda, Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond N’tungamulongo told the summit that the causes of violence in Eastern Congo were both “internal and external”.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who chaired the summit, accused the DRC of complaining about foreign interference instead of protecting its citizens.
“The country has a duty to protect its citizens, but it has no effective army. If it feels the rebels are from Rwanda, kill them and bring the bodies so that we can see them,” he said.
Last December, Uganda hosted talks between Kinshasa and the M23 rebel group but some delegates walked out.
Mr Museveni charged that the UN Mission in Congo has been ineffective and has been in “peaceful co-existence with terrorists.”
The M23 rebels and several other armed groups that are active in the Eastern Congo are fighting for control of the country’s natural and mineral resources such as timber and gold.
The leaders called on Kinshasa and the M23 to finalise peace talks as soon as possible.
Kenya’s request means it will be given a major role in the conflict if the international community agrees.
The Great Lakes Special Summit also agreed on a peace framework to bring to an end the conflicts in the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan.