Photo of the week: EAC prefers community leaders to M23 in dialogue

Photo of the week: EAC prefers community leaders to M23 in dialogue

The Burundian president, in his capacity as current chairperson of the EAC (East African Community) received this Friday the former president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta to talk about possible solutions to end the crisis prevailing in the east of Congo. They said the next round of talks will take place in the Kenyan capital Nairobi from November 16. The M23, a former Tutsi rebellion which took up arms again at the end of 2021 accusing Kinshasa of not having respected its commitments on the reintegration of its fighters is not included. Community leaders and traditional chiefs are preferred. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The two men spent several hours together on Thursday afternoon in President Neva’s office in the economic capital Bujumbura. On leaving, they addressed the press, in Swahili only.

The Burundian president who recently received the baton of command of the rotating presidency of the EAC from the hands of his host, affirmed that several armed groups have already laid down their arms in order to join the negotiations in Nairobi. He gave the example of rebel movements in South Kivu (eastern DRC) where his country has two contingents in a bilateral framework and under the command of the EAC.

“We have observed in South Kivu which is close to our home and noticed that several armed groups have laid down their arms and say they want to join the Nairobi dialogue. The Mai Mai have laid down their arms, Gumino has laid down their arms,” he said.

According to Mr. Ndayishimiye, the M23 is not concerned by the talks in Nairobi but by the process of Luanda (Angola).

“Within the EAC, we deal with agreements between the Congolese government and local armed groups. The M23 is involved in the Luanda process. We estimate it’s good to invite to the Nairobi Process, community leaders because most armed groups give the pretext that they took up arms to defend their community” added President Neva.

For the facilitator Kenyatta, the Congolese must be inspired by the Burundian model.

“Our Congolese brothers must understand that war and arms are not the solution. The solution comes from negotiations and dialogue between people”, declared Uhuru Kenyatta.

He didn’t hide his assurance “I have confidence that our Congolese brothers will also be able to find peace and development by drawing inspiration from the Burundian model instead of mourning and perpetual killings”.

Fidèle Sebahizi, one of the specialists of Congo who is doing his PhD at Liberty University in Virginia, believes that those involved in the Congolese crisis are very mistaken in excluding the M23 from the negotiations.

“[…], of course, the Congolese government blames the M23 for many ills. Instead of accusing Rwanda of supporting this movement, it should rather consider it in the negotiations because it remains the only one to gain ground. The government Congolese must listen to them because the M23 is made up of Congolese citizens. The Congolese authorities must listen to their demands instead of stigmatizing them. Even if we drove them out today, they would come back as we saw after 2013 because they are Congolese. They have nowhere to go, they have no other country – it’s Congo”, Sebahizi said.

Photo : President Neva and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Bujumbura state house, November 5, 2022, photo credit : Burundi presidency

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