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African leaders agree on ceasefire in restive East DR Congo from Friday

A Congolese army tank heads towards the front line near Kibumba in the area surrounding the North Kivu city of Goma on May 25, 2022   -  
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The Angolan Minister of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday announced an agreement was reached for an "immediate ceasefire" from Friday at 6 p.m. in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at the end of a mini-summit in Luanda.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi met with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, in the absence of President Paul Kagame, to try to end the recent tensions in eastern DRC after the failure of a cease-fire agreement reached in July.

The parties also agreed to demand "the immediate withdrawal of the M23 rebels from the occupied areas," said Minister Tete Antonio at the end of the meeting.

The delegations were received by Angolan President and African Union-appointed mediator Joao Lourenço.

The eastern DRC has been plagued for nearly 30 years by violence from armed groups, many of them inherited from wars that bloodied the region in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

DRC accuses its neighbour Rwanda of backing the M23, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months.

It's been 20 years since M23 briefly took over Goma before being forced out after a 10-day occupation.

The militia re-emerged last year, claiming Kinshasa had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.

Kenya's former leader Uhuru Kenyatta has been attempting to mediate over recent weeks, saying Rwandan President Paul Kagame is ready to encourage the militia to cease fire and pull back from captured territory.

Kenyatta is the East African Community's "facilitator" in efforts to restore peace and security in the mineral-rich east of the impoverished country hosting dozens of armed groups.

Kigali denies supporting the M23 while accusing Kinshasa of colluding with the FDLR, a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the 1994 genocide of mainly Tutsis in Rwanda.

Kenyan President William Ruto held talks Monday in Kinshasa with Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi as part of ongoing diplomatic efforts to ramp down tensions.

Nairobi is also set to hold peace talks in the coming days.

Kenya is also sending about 900 troops to the DRC as part of a joint EAC force created to help restore security, with the first batch of soldiers arriving last week.

After Kenyatta's visit earlier last week, he warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" unfolding.

On Friday, he also appealed for enhanced UN humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the fighting.

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