Chiefs of defence staff from a four-bloc mechanism for DR Congo are expected to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the auspices of the African Union (AU) to map out the harmonisation of existing and planned troop deployments to the country’s troubled east.
The meeting due on Friday, October 6, aims at “ensuring coherence and harmonisation in the execution of existing peace initiatives in the region,” in line with the decisions of a Quadripartite Summit held in Luanda, Angola on June 27, AU’s Peace and Security Council said in a statement on Tuesday, October 3.
The participants will deliberate on the existing and planned military deployments in eastern DR Congo to establish a clear division of labour, the statement reads.
“The discussions will focus on enhancing the coordination of forces deployed in Eastern DRC and modalities for planned deployments in response to the threat posed by the March 23 Movement (M23), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and other negative forces.”
The meeting was announced two days after fighting resumed between the country’s armed forces (FARDC) and M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo – a development that has raised concerns for possible escalation of the conflict despite international calls for peace talks.
The meeting at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa will bring together representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the East African Community (EAC), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These regional communities make up the Quadripartite arrangement, with DR Congo and Rwanda as concerned countries, while Angola, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, and Zambia in their various capacities as chairs of the regional communities and mechanisms and troop-contributing countries, as well as the AU and the United Nations (UN).Close
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The army chiefs’ meeting will be preceded by a meeting of experts from Wednesday to Thursday.
The SADC bloc plans to send troops to eastern DR Congo in the near future. According to reports, the bloc’s leaders met in September to discuss modalities for deployment.
The EAC deployed a force to eastern DR Congo in November 2022 to observe the implementation of a ceasefire between the M23 and government forces. However, the ceasefire has been fragile, with both parties accusing each other of breaking it.
The EAC regional force occupies positions vacated by the M23 rebels as part of a withdrawal plan called for by a meeting of regional leaders in November 2022.
The M23 accuses the Congolese government of ignoring international calls for peace talks.
During the UN General Assembly, in September, President Felix Tshisekedi said that there would be no dialogue with the rebels.