According to The East African, ceasefire violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are pushing the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) into action, prompting the African Union to reconsider its plans for future intervention missions in conflict areas.
Targeting conflicts such as the one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the African Union initially started its Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration initiative in 2011.
The continental bloc announced this week that local, data-driven peace solutions will play a major role in the fourth phase of its disarmament programs in conflict zones. The World Bank and the UN Department of Peace Operations are funding the initiative.
National governments and regional economic blocs will only be permitted to take the lead role in just those strategic and “in-demand” interventions into conflicts. According to an AU dispatch on the AU DDR Capacity Program, “this will ensure that the results in the areas of conflict prevention and response are fit for purpose, and impactful.”
According to the AU, decisions would be based on local data and reality, indicating an emphasis on study and community involvement. The new focus will be on human rights and justice as well as conflict avoidance by getting armed groups to engage in discussion.
The declaration coincided with increased pressure on the EACRF, one of the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) supported by the African Union, to step up its defenses and maybe enter combat mode, which it has remained out of all year.
This week, during combat with an M23 rebel force, the Congolese army (FARDC) is said to have killed a Kenyan soldier participating in the mission with shrapnel from a mortar. The EACRF has been the target of an ambush strike twice, both times attributed to rebels.
The EACRF declared last week that it had repelled an attack by an armed force that was “unknown.”
The FARDC initially acknowledged the Kenyan’s death in a statement, accusing M23 of attacking the force’s posts with the intention of “creating a misunderstanding between it and the EACRF.”
The M23 was charged by FARDC with firing the mortar. Furthermore, sources within the EACRF said that Wazalendo, one of the rebel organizations supported by the Congolese army, was the one who fired the mortar. The M23 has not responded to the accusation.
The regional army accused both parties on Wednesday of breaking a truce that was negotiated months prior.
The M23 armed group and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) have agreed to a ceasefire.
Both this and the Luanda Process, which committed M23 and the Congolese army to upholding the truce, are violated by the attacks.
The Bujumbura summit in May “reaffirmed that a political process and dialogue among all the parties is the only way to sustainably resolve the security situation in eastern DRC and urged the DRC government to work with the facilitator to finalize the appropriate dates for resumption of the Inter-Congolese dialogue.”
Despite the escalating hostilities and tensions, however, the political procedures that are crucial to calming the warring factions have not been revived.
Rwanda announced on Monday that one of its nationals had died as a result of a stray gunshot that came from fighting between the group of “Kinshasa-backed illegal armed groups” in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the Rwandan border.
A statement from Kigali stated, “Rwanda is deeply concerned by the Government of the DRC’s ongoing support and collaboration with the FDLR, other illegal armed groups, and foreign mercenaries, which is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border, in violation of the Luanda and Nairobi processes.”
The most recent charges point to strained ties that could exacerbate tensions between the two neighbors and harm the Nairobi Process.
The fighting on Monday took place between two armed factions, according to Maj-Gen Cirimwami Peter, the acting governor of North Kivu, deep within the settlement of Kanyarutchinya.
The Joint Verification Mechanism established as part of the Luanda Process has been tasked with handling the situation, according to Maj-Gen Cirimwami.
The security and humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region has not improved, according to Xia Huang, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, who gave this report to the UN Security Council six months ago.
“The military strengthening in both countries, the absence of direct high-level dialogue, and the persistence of hate speech are all worrying signs that we cannot ignore,” he said, pointing to the possibility of outright conflict between the DRC and Rwanda.
The armed groups’ use of bombs and mortars begs the issue of who is responsible for the rising violence, which also poses a threat.