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President Paul Kagame arriving in Bujumbura to join other Heads of State of the EAC for a meeting to evaluate the security situation in eastern DR Congo on Saturday, February 4. Photos by Urugwiro Village 

President Paul Kagame on Saturday, February 4, arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi, to join other Heads of State of the East African Community who are meeting there to evaluate the security situation in eastern DR Congo, where the bloc deployed a joint force in November 2022.

The leaders will be hosted by President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who is also the chair of the EAC. The 20th Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State comes at a time when the volatile security situation in North Kivu province, where government forces face M23 rebels, is sharply deteriorating.

ALSO READ: Kenyatta calls urgent meeting as DR Congo situation worsens

It follows an urgent meeting between EAC technical advisors and Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s former president and the facilitator of the EAC-led peace process for eastern DR Congo.

ALSO READ: Rwandan officers deported from DR Congo enjoyed immunity - EAC chief

The leaders will also discuss the way forward for the situation, the EAC secretariat tweeted on Friday.

ALSO READ: Biruta, US Deputy Secretary of State discuss DR Congo situation

The Congolese government has been in the spotlight recently, due to its unilateral decision to deport three Rwandan military officers who were serving the regional force.

On February 1, the EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki wrote to the Congolese prime minister Christophe Lutundula, seeking clarification on the deportation of officers, who enjoyed immunity.

ALSO READ: DR Congo ignored Luanda agreement – Minister Biruta

Kinshasa also faces accusations of abandoning the Luanda agreement, which called for the disarmament of militias like the FDLR, among other things.

It is understood the M23 rebels are the only party that has begun implementing the Luanda agreement, with a gradual withdrawal.

ALSO READ: UN urges restraint over Rwanda-DR Congo tensions

Tensions between DR Congo and Rwanda have also risen, following the violation of Rwandan airspace by a Congolese warplane, the third such incursion in three months.

 

The New Times

 

The New Times

By , The New Times

 

  • President Wiliam Ruto coming out of his jet after landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. KENYANS.CO.KE 
  • President William Ruto jetted out to Bujumbura City in Burundi on Saturday, February 4, for an extraordinary summit on the worsening security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

    The East African Community (EAC) Heads of State met in Burundian City in a bid to find a long-lasting solution to the ongoing skirmishes in the neighbouring country. 

    Among the leaders who attended the meeting include Presidents Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Félix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and host Évariste Ndayishimiye (the President of Burundi). 

    "The summit will be evaluating the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo," Ruto's communication clarified. 

    Kenya defence forces delievers food aid to Congo
    Kenya defence forces delievers food aid to Congo. FOREIGN AFFAIRS KENYA

    Ruto who addressed Journalists immediately after landing in Bujumbura explained that the Congolese have a rare opportunity to take the destiny of their country into their own hands.  

    "The moment is long overdue for the international community to most vigilantly audit industrial supply chains and make sure that global production and consumption honour Congolese resource sovereignty and do not profit out of the conflict and human suffering the country has been experiencing," Ruto warned. 

    The Head of State noted that time is running out for East Africans to bring the Democratic Republic of the Congo back to the line of peace. 

    He also warned foreign elements that are causing divisions and fights among citizens in DRC, noting that such persons must be defeated. 

    "History has amply documented the direct relationship between slavery and colonialism in Africa and the industrial revolution in the West.

    "It is time for the world to recognise the obvious: the resources of the DRC belong to the people of the DRC, and that global demand for these resources must enhance their well-being and not inflict misery on them," Ruto explained. 

    Ruto appreciated the concerted efforts that have been mounted by EAC nations that also volunteered peacekeeping troops to DR Congo.  

    In November 2022, President William Ruto flagged off thousands of troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in an arrangement that is seeking to restore peace in the country. 

    Former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also serving as the East Africa facilitator for the Nairobi Peace Process, on Tuesday, January 31, met the EAC technical advisors to establish facts about the deteriorating security situation in DR Congo. 

    Uhuru also briefed EAC leaders that the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had gotten worse following renewed fights between rebel groups and the country's military. 

    The most affected town in the eastern DR Congo are Ituri and North Kivu which have witnessed serious fighting from rebel groups.  

    Reports indicate that a number of civilians have been killed and DRC soldiers injured as the fighting continued to escalate. 

    Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in a peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday November 16, 2022
    Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
    FACEBOOK WEGULO
     

High-ranking U.S. officials are heading to Africa, hot on the heels of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held last month for the first time in eight years.

Following U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's trip to the continent earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield kicked off her Africa tour Wednesday.

The United States is signalling its "return to Africa" with these trips. But what is its true intention?

Is it to promote cooperation with Africa or an attempt to pressure the continent to counter "China's influence"?

During their visits, U.S. officials have attempted to drive a wedge between China and Africa by raising concerns about African debt. The so-called "debt trap" has long been a narrative trap set by the West to smear China-Africa cooperation.

Photo taken on Nov. 29, 2021 shows a provincial airport financed by the Chinese government in Gaza province, Mozambique. Pic: Xinhua/Nie Zuguo

 

During his recent visit to Africa, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang pointed out that Africa's debt problem is essentially an issue of development. The solution to the problem requires addressing not only the symptoms but also the root causes.

Qin said that China has always been committed to helping Africa ease its debt burden, and the country is an active participant in the Group of 20 (G20) Debt Service Suspension Initiative. China has signed agreements or reached consensuses with 19 African countries on debt relief and has suspended the most debt service payments of any G20 member. The country has also been actively engaged in the case-by-case debt treatment for Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia under the G20 Common Framework.

Data from the World Bank showed that multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors hold nearly three-quarters of Africa's total external debt. They could and should take more robust actions to relieve the debt burden of African countries. China calls upon all parties concerned to contribute to alleviating Africa's debt burden.

Meanwhile, China's financing cooperation with Africa has been mainly in infrastructure construction and production capacity to enhance Africa's ability for independent and sustainable development.

Over the years, China-Africa cooperation has met the urgent development needs of African countries. Driven by the Belt and Road Initiative, China-Africa cooperation in infrastructure has yielded fruitful results. Statistics showed that since the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was founded 23 years ago, Chinese companies have built or upgraded more than 10,000 km of railways, nearly 100,000 km of roads, roughly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, and several hospitals and schools in Africa, creating more than 4.5 million jobs.

This photo taken on May 8, 2022 shows a section of the Nairobi Expressway built by China Road and Bridge Corporation in Nairobi, Kenya. Pic: Xinhua/Dong JianghuiFord and Red Bull looking set to announce F1 partnership, reports say 

It is worth noting that the airports where the U.S. officials landed and the roads and bridges their convoys passed during their Africa visits were likely built in cooperation with Chinese companies.

Who is sincerely helping Africa to develop?

The African people are best qualified to answer the question.

A survey issued last year by the Inter Region Economic Network, a Kenya-based think tank, found that China takes a substantial lead in decision-making and timely completion of infrastructure projects such as roads, power dams, railways and bridges in Africa. Facts and figures in the study showed that through efficient action, China tangibly contributes to Africa's development.

Worried that the United States is not genuinely interested in helping Africa or Zambia but cares more about advancing its interests where it feels it is losing ground, Fred Mutesa, a Zambia-based expert on governance, development cooperation and poverty alleviation, said that "we hope that the United States will not take advantage of its renewed friendship with Zambia to score points against China."

Africa should not become an arena for a great power rivalry. Instead, let Africa become a land of win-win cooperation for all, especially Africans. By Xinhua writer Zhu Shaobin, Xinhua

Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome has clarified his move to rescale retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s security. 

Speaking ok Friday in Mombasa, the IG said that the move was a process of restructuring the police service. 

“Once the president has retired, the commander is a superintendent of police.An officer who was of the rank of an assistant Inspector General was with the retired president. So how do you expect an assistant Inspector General to report to another assistant Inspector General,” Koome said. 

He denied reports that the rescalling of the police officers attached to the former president was politically motivated.

“There is no politics at play when it comes to the security of VIPs. We are a responsible police service and we would not like to be dragged into politics because we are an independent office,” he said

Koome also dismissed reports that the security detail of former first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta has been withdrawn.  

“The former First Lady has security, not just the former first lady, even our late two former Presidents, we secure their premises. We respect those offices, we provide security,” Koome stated. 

On withdrawing the security detail assigned to former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Koome stated that the changes were made to rationalize security deployment in the country and ensure that security personnel were distributed fairly.

According to him, it would be unjust if retired government officials had to retain the same number of security personnel while current officials needed protection in their operations.

“We can’t provide security to retired government officials and there are active CSs who must be in the office by 6am and leave at 10pm,” he said. 

By , KDRTV

Pope Francis in Kinshasa, delivered a speech full of stinging condemnation of the exploitation over centuries. Internet
 

After Pope Francis celebrated one of his biggest Masses, with around a million attendees in DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa, he condemned the exploitation of Africa and urged the world to acknowledge the catastrophic things that have been done in the country and Africa at large and respect its people.

Shortly after landing in Kinshasa, Pope Francis delivered a speech full of stinging condemnation of the exploitation over centuries.

ALSO READVatican team in South Sudan ahead of Pope's visit

Speaking in Italian, the 86-year-old said the DR Congo’s history had been hobbled by conflict and a history of foreign domination.

“Political exploitation gave way to an economic colonialism that was equally enslaving. As a result, this country, massively plundered, has not benefited adequately from its immense resources,” he told an audience of Congolese politicians and other dignitaries.

“It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation. The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood.”

"Hands off the DR Congo. Hands off Africa. Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered," Francis said.

Despite its vast reserves of minerals, timber and freshwater, the DR Congo remains one of the poorest countries in the world. About two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day, according to the World Bank.

Forgiveness is born from wounds

Pope Francis delivered a message of peace on Wednesday as he met survivors and victims of the atrocities of the war in eastern DR Congo.

He also urged Congolese to forgive those who have harmed them.

The crowd cheered when the Argentine pope greeted them in Lingala, one of four national languages widely spoken in the capital, Kinshasa. And they listened attentively as he urged them in his homily to open their hearts to forgiveness, citing the example of Christ who forgave those who betrayed him.

“He showed them his wounds because forgiveness is born from wounds,” Francis said. “It is born when our wounds do not leave scars of hatred, but become the means by which we make room for others and accept their weaknesses. Our weakness becomes an opportunity, and forgiveness becomes the path to peace.”

Referring to the decades of violence especially in the eastern DR Congo that has forced millions to flee, Francis stressed that forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending that nothing bad has happened. But he said it creates an “amnesty of the heart.”

ALSO READKenyatta calls urgent meeting as DR Congo situation worsens

Conflict especially ravages the east of the country, where M23 rebels who are fighting for their right of existence as legitimate Congolese nationals have – in the past year resumed fighting after Kinshasa turned it back on several peace agreements it signed – and captured swathes of territory.

The biggest roadblock to peace is DR Congo’s refusal to implement the existing peace roadmaps, which include the Luanda roadmap and the Nairobi process that demands that the Congolese government disarm all armed groups and engage in dialogue toward a sustainable solution.

The Nairobi and Luanda processes were established in 2022 to help restore peace in eastern DR Congo, where more than 120 local and foreign armed groups roam freely, causing unjustified chaos.

ALSO READKigali regrets Kinshasa’s abandonment of Luanda, Nairobi peace processes

The violence in the east is connected to the long and complex fallout from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in neighbouring Rwanda.

ALSO READKagame: ‘Congo leaders cannot make Rwanda the scapegoat’

The biggest mistake the Congolese government has chosen to make is to align itself with FDLR, a genocidal militia formed by remnants of the perpetrators of the genocide that claimed more than one million innocent lives in Rwanda nearly three decades ago.

The genocidal group that has been given space in eastern DR Congo to wreak havoc – plundering resources at will, killing people and raping as well as forcefully recruiting children – poses an existential security threat not only to Rwanda, but the entire great lakes region as well.

ALSO READBelgian lawyer on why genocide ideology doesn’t dissolve three decades after dispersion of genocidaires

“What great good it does us to cleanse our hearts of anger and remorse, of every trace of resentment and hostility!” he said.

Encouraged ongoing regional peace efforts

Francis, in his speech, encouraged ongoing regional peace efforts and said that “we cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades.”

The pope criticised rich countries for closing their eyes and ears to the tragedies unfolding in Congo and elsewhere in Africa.

“One has the impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring it [Congo]. We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths,” he said.

Francis will stay in Kinshasa until Friday morning, when he will fly to South Sudan, another country grappling with conflict and poverty.

He will be accompanied for that leg of his journey by the archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the global Anglican communion, and by the Church of Scotland moderator.

The religious leaders have described their joint visit as a “pilgrimage of peace”.

In South Sudan, the Pope is likely to call for the political leaders whose feet he famously kissed after a meeting at the Vatican to do much more to bring about peace in another troubled nation. New Times

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