Kenyan President calls on armed groups to nurture peace and stability in DRC
By Vatican News staff reporter
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to lay down their weapons and “nurture peace and stability".
He made the call in a video statement delivered on Wednesday evening during a virtual Inter-Congolese Peace Dialogue convened by Kenya.
In the message, the president stressed that "Without laying down weapons and forging an unbreakable national compact to secure the [DR Congo], the fruits of prosperity, that you all deserve from the teeming rich endowments, will remain elusive."
"This makes it urgent for all people of goodwill in the DRC to coalesce together and frantically set a foundation of prosperity by working tirelessly for an enduring peace," he said.
Members of over 30 armed groups have been meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for talks with DR Congo officials.
The majority are said to be in favour of laying down arms while other groups “requested to be given more time to appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to join hands in building their country,” according to a statement from Kenya's presidency.
A call to peace
During the recorded statement, President Kenyatta highlighted the importance of peace and security.
"The historical call to be our brothers' keepers is a bell that has been tolling and to which Kenya always keeps responding. We will not relent in your pursuit of peace for prosperity. This is why we reached out to you, our brothers, our sisters of the DRC," he said.
The president thanked his counterpart President Tshisekedi of DR Congo and the armed groups in the country for heeding Kenya's solidarity call for the promotion of peace and dialogue.
"The DRC deserves to claim and assert its rightful place in Africa and the world at large. This is just but a first step towards that attainable goal. I thank you, each and every one of you, for heeding our call and seizing this opportunity," President Kenyatta said.
Meanwhile, President Tshisekedi applauded the armed groups for entering into dialogue with his government, and called on all armed groups to accept the process of disarmament and demobilization.
"This is a process that will take into account all concerns. We are going to obtain the technical and other support from many donors to enable us to succeed," he said.
However, even as talks continued in Nairobi, fighting erupted in eastern Congo near the Uganda border as government troops battled the M23 rebel group.
This virtual Inter-Congolese Peace Dialogue summit comes ahead of Pope Francis’ upcoming journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo from July 2 to 5.
While there he is expected to visit the capital Kinshasa and Goma in the eastern province of North Kivu.