The call comes after leaders of the East African Community held a summit in Burundi on Saturday.
East African regional leaders have reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire by all parties to the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo pitting the country’s military against a rebel group the government is fighting. accused Rwanda of aiding.
At a summit in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Saturday, leaders of the regional East African Community (EAC) ordered “all parties to cease fire immediately,” according to a statement. presented at the end of the meeting.
“The Summit reiterated its call for all sides to reduce tensions,” the statement read.
The M23 rebel group has seize Large areas in the eastern North Kivu province of the DRC in a swift offensive since October 20 have threatened the provincial capital, Goma.
The conflict has heightened tensions in the region with the DRC accusing neighboring Rwanda of supporting and sponsoring a Tutsi-led uprising. Experts from the United Nations and Western powers also accused Rwanda of supporting the M23. Rwanda has denied any involvement.
Saturday’s meeting was the latest diplomatic effort to try to end a conflict that has displaced at least 520,000 people since March 2022 in North Kivu.
Earlier this week, Pope Francis visited the DRC and called for an end to the violence.
Regional leaders brokered an agreement in November under which the rebels must cease fire and withdraw from positions recently occupied prior to 15 January, but no retreat took place.
An internal UN report said the rebels were flouting the terms of the ceasefire and withdrawal.
Saturday’s summit was attended by heads of state from Rwanda, the DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi, and other senior officials from the region.
They also demanded the withdrawal of all foreign and armed groups from the DRC, and asked regional military commanders to meet within a week and set a timeframe for the withdrawal.
On January 27, M23 rebels took control of the town Kitshanga in Masisi territory and controlled a new road, further isolating the provincial capital of Goma.