DR Congo crisis: Nairobi peace talks get underway

The third round of peace talks between the DR Congo government and multiple armed groups are finally taking place today in Nairobi after being postponed two times.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who is also the chair of the East African Community, will officiate the inter-Congolese dialogue. Kenyan President William Ruto and his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC facilitator, will be attending.

At the facilitation of the EAC, the Nairobi talks are being held in an effort to bring peace to the east of DR Congo, where over 100 armed groups have wreaked havoc for close to three decades.

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However, reports say the M23 rebels, who have been fighting government forces since May this year, were not invited for the talks.

Though the M23 have called for direct talks with Kinshasa, the government has insisted that the rebels withdraw from occupied territories as a prerequisite for talks.

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The Nairobi talks are taking place less than a week after the summit of regional leaders, held in Luanda, Angola where they signed a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict involving M23 and called on all other armed groups to disarm.

Last week was supposed to be the deadline for the M23 rebels to withdraw from the occupied territories in North Kivu province, which hasn’t been respected. The rebels instead announced that they agreed on the ceasefire.

The EAC has established a regional force to restore peace in eastern DR Congo, with Kenyan troops already in Goma. At the Luanda summit, the leaders said they would approve the use of force if the armed groups do not disarm voluntarily.