The meeting convened by the East African Community chairman and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will among others discuss measures to solve the crisis in Eastern Congo which among others will include deployment of a regional force to fight the M23 rebel group.
“The situation of peace and security, particularly in eastern DRC is preponderant. The people have long suffered and continue to pay an inordinately heavy price in loss of lives, property and elusive peace,” a statement by the Kenyan presidency said.
According to the statement, the third East African Heads of State Conclave on Inter-Congolese Dialogue of the Nairobi Process on the peace and security situation in Eastern Congo will seek to augment earlier meetings by the regional leaders meant to bring lasting peace in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
The meeting comes a day after regional army commanders met in Nairobi to discuss final details in regards the forthcoming deployment of a regional joint force in DRC.
A few days ago, President Kenyatta in his capacity as the chairman of the East African Community directed that a regional standby force be immediately deployed in Democratic Republic of Congo to help solve the worsening situation.
“The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO,” he said.
MONUSCO has been deployed in DRC since 1999.
However, DRC has since welcomed the idea of the deployment of a regional force in its territory but has warned Rwanda is not welcome to be part of the joint force.
“The government of DRC welcomes the proposal made by President Kenyatta of deploying a new regional military force led by the East African Community to enforce peace in the provinces targeted by M23 and Rwanda but insists that it will not accept the participation of Rwanda in this joint force,” said Patrick Muyaya the DRC government spokesperson on Friday.
The Congolese government accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels who have renewed fighting against the FADRC forces and consequently captured Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda last week.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has also urged the international community “in particular the United States and the United Kingdom”, to “condemn this invasion” and put pressure on Rwandan President Paul Kagame to “recall his troops who have invaded eastern Congo”.
Rwanda has since denied the accusations of supporting M23 rebels.
It is however not clear whether Rwanda’s Paul Kagame will attend today’s meeting in Nairobi in which his current nemesis Tshisekedi is expected to be.
After a 10 year lull, M23 in April this year resumed fighting in Eastern DRC after accusing the Tshiskedi government of backtracking on some of the promises in the agreement signed to cease fire.
M23 says they have not been integrated into the FADRC forces and trained as Special Forces to be deployed anywhere in the country as well as being allowed to contest for political power.
Following the renewed fighting the rebels have captured Bunagana town on the border with Uganda, forcing thousands of Congolese to flee to Uganda.
The rebels also shot down a Congolese army chopper after firing a rocket propelled grenade in North Kivu as well as capturing new areas.
The renewed violence has once again pitted DRC against Rwanda with accusations being traded against each other.