East African leaders have agreed to send a joint military force to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to deal with armed groups operating in the area.
At a meeting on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya‘s capital, regional leaders agreed that such a force should be activated immediately.
The size of the projected force has yet to be determined. According to a summit statement, all Congolese armed groups operating in the restive eastern region of the nation should fully join in a democratic process to resolve their complaints.
Those who do not comply will face military action, it warns.
In the mineral-rich region, dozens of rebel organizations operate, some of which originate in neighboring countries or are affiliated with DR Congo’s neighbors.
The M23 rebels, one of the most powerful fighting groups, have made a comeback in recent weeks.
Hundreds of people have been displaced as a result of the group’s attacks on government army posts and the takeover of villages in Rutshuru region.
Since November of last year, the Ugandan army has been operating in Ituri province.
It has been pursuing the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan-based rebel organization that it accuses of carrying out a series of attacks in the country last year.
Last month, the Democratic Republic of Congo joined the East African Community, a regional bloc of seven countries, in what some observers regard as a move toward finding cooperative solutions to the country’s security problems in the east.
Meanwhile, Kenya and DR Congo have signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.
The objectives of the agreement include promoting increased agricultural productivity in Kenya and DR Congo, encouraging joint investment ventures between respective private entrepreneurs as well as boosting mutually beneficial trade between the two countries.
Some of the key areas of cooperation covered by the agreement include crop development and promotion, agricultural and livestock research, animal health and production.
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