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DRC: mediator Uhuru Kenyatta calls for a "peaceful resolution" of the conflict

DRC: mediator Uhuru Kenyatta calls for a "peaceful resolution" of the conflict
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaks to the media at State House in   -  
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Khalil Senosi/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the facilitator of the peace talks in eastern DR Congo, held a meeting on Wednesday in Goma, in the heart of the conflict zone, at the end of which he reiterated a call to a "peaceful resolution" of the crisis.

"We are not here to open new negotiations," he told the press, after meeting in the capital of North Kivu with the Congolese authorities, representatives of the United Nations, and Western diplomats.

The commanders of the M23, a mainly Tutsi rebellion that has seized large swathes of territory in this province bordering Rwanda and Uganda since last year, are demanding talks with the government as a prerequisite for their surrender.

The Congolese authorities declare for their part that they refuse any dialogue with the M23, demanding the disarmament and cantonment of its troops without conditions and the withdrawal of the Rwandan army.

The former Kenyan president called for the various regional peace initiatives to be pursued, so that "the Congolese are able to talk to each other to resolve the problems of this great nation".

He also insisted on the return of the two million people displaced by the conflict and called for the DRC to be "respected as a sovereign and united country".

The governor of North Kivu, General Constant Ndima, denounced the presence of Rwandan troops in North Kivu, calling it a "useless war of aggression".

On 7 July, the European Union reiterated "its urgent request" to Rwanda to "withdraw its troops from eastern DRC" and "immediately end all support for M23".

The governor expressed his "deep gratitude for the establishment of the force" of the East African Community (EAC), which provides a buffer zone between the M23 and the Rwandan army on the one hand, and the FARDC (armed forces of the DRC) and militias on the other, some of which, like the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), are supported by the Congolese army.

The EAC force, which includes Kenyan, Ugandan, Burundian, and South Sudanese contingents, was criticised in May by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi for cohabiting with the "M23 terrorists" and suggested that it would have to leave the country at the end of June if its "mandate is not fulfilled".

Despite the absence of major developments in areas under M23 and EAC control, and sporadic clashes since early July, the presence of a regional force in eastern DRC has been extended until September.

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