Heads of State drawn from East African Community Member State are scheduled to convene a summit in Bujumbura to evaluate the situation in Eastern DRC.
The 20th Extra-Ordinary Summit to be hosted by Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye on Saturday will also deliberate on the way forward amid an insurgency led by the M23 rebel group.
The summit comes days after M23 rebels seized the strategic town of Kitshanga following days of fierce fighting.
DRC’s forces withdrew from Kitshanga on January 27 in what its commanders termed as a tactical to protect the civilian population.
Leaders of the seven-member bloc will be meeting at a time relations between Rwanda and DR Congo, its newest member, have hit an all-time low.
The two States have been trading blame over the security situation in DRC with Kinshasa accusing President Paul Kagame of funding M23 activities.
Kigali has fired back accusing DRC of violating its territorial integrity citing multiple incursions into its airspace by jets operated by DR Congo’s military.
Expulsion of Rwandan military officials
In the latest escalation, three Rwandan military officials were expelled from Goma the capital of North Kivu province in the Eastern DRC.
EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki wrote to Kinshasa on February 1 seeking answers on the expulsion of the trio who were part of a regional force.
“The East African Community has learnt with concern on 30th January, 2023 of the deportation of 3 officers deployed by the Republic of Rwanda at the East African Community Regional Force Headquarters in Goma to Rwanda,” Mathuki wrote in a letter addressed to President Félix Tshisekedi.
“Your Excellency, you may recall that the deployment of the officers at the East African Community Regional Force Headquarters in Goma to support the Regional Command Centre was a decision of the Heads of State at their meeting on the Peace Process in the Eastern DRC,” he stressed.
EAC approved the deployment of a standby force to DRC early in 2022. Kenya deployed its troops in November alongside other Partners States including Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania.
The force has been working alongside an EAC-led mediation process facilitated by Kenya’s immediate former President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The dialogue is yet to bear fruits.