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Mini-Summit Discusses Peace Efforts for East Democratic Republic of Congo

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Angolan President Joao Lourenco hosted a mini-summit in Addis Ababa on Friday in a bid to revive peace efforts for the violence-wracked eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The meeting, on the eve of a two-day AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, follows an escalation of fighting in the region in recent days.

Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to quell the conflict between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army in the mineral-rich east of the vast central African nation.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi was among those taking part in Friday’s closed-door meeting, his office said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

“This mini-summit discussed, among other things, the return to a constructive and reconciliatory dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda, the immediate cessation of hostilities, the immediate withdrawal of the M23 from occupied areas and the launch of a process to contain this movement,” the presidency said.

Kinshasa, along with the United Nations and Western countries, accuses DR Congo’s much smaller neighbor Rwanda of backing the rebels, a charge Kigali denies.

In his address to the meeting Tshisekedi charged that Kigali was perpetuating insecurity in the region and looting the region’s mineral riches, the presidency said, adding that the talks would continue on Saturday.

Angolan state news agency Angop has said earlier that the mini-summit would “discuss the relaunch of the peace process” in the eastern DRC.

It said Lourenco was expected to be joined by the leaders of Burundi, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.

But it was not confirmed which leaders attended the talks, which began shortly after Tshisekedi’s arrival in Addis Ababa according to an AU source.

Militias have plagued the eastern DRC for decades, many of them a legacy of regional wars fought in the 1990s and the early 2000s.

The mostly Tutsi M23 has seized vast swathes of North Kivu province since emerging from dormancy in late 2021.

The U.N. Security Council said on Monday it was concerned by the escalating violence in the eastern region.

The latest flare-up has forced thousands of civilians to flee the town of Sake on the way to Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

According to a U.N. document seen by AFP on Monday, the Rwandan army is using sophisticated weapons such as surface-to-air missiles to support M23.

U.N. forces have been in the DRC for nearly 25 years but have been accused of failing to protect civilians from armed groups.

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