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European Parliament calls for support of Luanda-led peace process in DR Congo

The European Parliament called for international support Thursday for an Angola-led process to end fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The call came a day after African leaders at a mini-summit in the Angolan capital Luanda agreed on an immediate cease-fire in North Kivu province, where government troops are battling M23 rebels.

The meeting, hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco, was aimed at finding a solution to the crisis in eastern Congo.

An agreement was reached for a “cease-fire within 48 hours” in the DRC at 6 p.m. (1700GMT) Friday, said a statement released after the talks.

The leaders also demanded “the immediate withdrawal of M23 rebels from the occupied areas,” it said.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi attended the meeting along with President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, who is the current chair of the East African Community bloc, as well as Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta, the bloc’s facilitator of the negotiations.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame skipped the meeting and was represented by his Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta.

“The international community should take concrete actions to stop the ongoing violence by supporting the regional mediation Luanda process,” members of the European Parliament said in a statement.

The mini-summit expressed concern about “worsening insecurity and persistent military actions by the M23.”

The leaders called for a halt of politico-military support to the M23 and other local and foreign armed groups in DR Congo.

The summit also called for political consultations between the Congolese government and local armed groups.

DR Congo has accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels, a charge Rwanda denies.

The Congolese government has said that it would not engage in talks with M23 rebels until the fighters withdrew from the areas they occupy.

Last month, the Congolese government expelled the Rwandan ambassador to the country as tensions escalated over the M23 rebels.

Wednesday’s meeting called for the resumption of bilateral dialogue between Kinshasa and Kigali.

The East African Community has committed to deploy a joint force to quell the violence in the east of DR Congo. The mini-summit noted that the East African Community regional force will continue its deployment.

Earlier this month, Kenya deployed its troops in the DR Congo and Uganda announced plans to deploy about 1,000 troops.

More than 232,000 civilians have been displaced in the eastern Congo and 2.4 million Congolese children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, according to the European Parliament.

Roughly 7.5 million people are currently in need of assistance with no access to water and sanitation.

In a resolution, the European Parliament called for the European Union and its member states to impose sanctions against perpetrators of human rights violations in eastern DR Congo, provide humanitarian aid to the region, and continue increasing its development and humanitarian funding for the country.

Source: AA