Africa: Army Chiefs Meet Over DR Congo Crisis

Army chiefs from four African regions met on Friday, October 6, at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the crisis in eastern DR Congo.

The military leaders from countries that are part of an AU-led quadripartite mechanism for eastern DR Congo discussed “a coordination framework to harmonise the many peace initiatives in the region,” the AU Peace and Security Council said in a post on X.

Chiefs of Defence Staff of the Quadripartite Mechanism on Eastern #DRC convened at the AU Headquarters, in line with the decisions of the Quadripartite Summit held in Luanda on 27 June 2023, to define a coordination framework to harmonise the many peace initiatives in the region— African Union Political Affairs Peace and Security (@AUC_PAPS) October 6, 2023

In an earlier statement announcing the meeting, the council said the army chiefs would discuss planned and existing military interventions in eastern DR Congo to establish a clear division of labour in the country’s troubled east.

The army chiefs’ meeting was preceded by a meeting of experts from Wednesday to Thursday.

The meeting took place as hostilities between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and the M23 rebel group resumed, with heavy fighting reported in parts of North Kivu province.

In a statement on Thursday, M23 spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka accused the government coalition, which includes militias like the FDLR, and Mai Mai Nyatura, of ethnic cleansing.

Kanyuka said the M23 “promises that these crimes will not go unpunished.”

In November 2022, the East African Community (EAC) deployed a regional force to eastern DR Congo to observe the implementation of a ceasefire which has since been fragile, with both parties accusing each other of breaking it.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) plans to send troops to eastern DR Congo in the near future. SADC leaders met in September to discuss modalities for deployment.

The meeting at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa brought together representatives of the SADC, the EAC, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

These regional communities make up the Quadripartite arrangement, with DR Congo and Rwanda as concerned countries, and 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).

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