Warring parties in DRC urged to observe ceasefire agreement

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The East African Community Regional Force has urged the warring parties in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to cease hostilities and observe the ceasefire agreement that was brokered by leaders of the regional bloc earlier this year.

Fighting resumed in eastern DRC this month between the M23 rebels and a militia loyal to the Congolese government after months of calm.

Fighting between the M23 rebels and a pro-government militia known as Wazalendo has intensified near the DRC’s eastern city of Goma.

A Kenyan soldier attached to the East African force was killed last week following the clashes. The Congolese army blamed the killing on the M23 rebels, but the spokesperson of the rebel group denied the accusation.

The East African Community Regional Force has called on both sides to stop the fighting. The regional force is composed of troops from Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda. They deployed in the DRC’s eastern province of North Kivu earlier this year to help restore peace and security. But the fighting has continued.

The DRC Foreign Affairs Minister recently said their government is disappointed with the performance of the East African force. The armed conflict in the country’s east has raised tensions between the DRC and Rwanda. Both countries accuse each other of supporting rebel groups that are seeking to destabilize their nations.

The UN Humanitarian Agency, OCHA says the latest round of fighting has forced 200 000 people to flee their homes since the beginning of October.  -Reporting by Chris Ocamringa in Kinshasa.