NAIROBI – President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on various armed groups in DR Congo to lay down their arms and work with President Felix Tshisekedi to promote peace and stability in the newest member state of the East African Community.
President Kenyatta stressed that each individual section will stand to lose unless unity and cohesion among all the people of DR Congo is sought.
“…without laying down weapons and forging an unbreakable national compact to secure the DRC, the fruits of prosperity, that you all deserve from the teeming rich endowments, will remain elusive.
“This makes it urgent for all people of goodwill in the DRC to coalesce together and frantically set a foundation of prosperity by working tirelessly for an enduring peace,” Kenyatta told the people of DR Congo.
President Kenyatta’s message was conveyed in a recorded video statement delivered on Wednesday evening during a virtual Inter-Congolese Peace Dialogue convened by Kenya.
Kenyatta pointed out that the value of peace is unique and uncontested, adding that nothing enduring can be built on the shifty soils of insecurity.
“The historical call to be our brothers’ keepers is a bell that has been tolling and to which Kenya always keeps responding. We will not relent in your pursuit of peace for prosperity. This is why we reached out to you, our brothers, our sisters of the DRC,” President Kenyatta said.
He compared the promotion of peace dialogue in Kenya to the traditional drummer calling elders into the village square to talk about pressing issues that threaten the tranquility of a peaceful people.
President Kenyatta thanked President Tshisekedi and the armed groups in DR Congo for responding to Kenya’s call for solidarity for peace dialogue and encouraged them to speak out and exert all their efforts to move forward DR Congo.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta assured DR Congo that Kenya stands ready to lend its best support to their common goal as they move forward to create an enabling environment to ensure prosperity for the people.
“The DRC deserves to claim and assert its rightful place in Africa and the world at large. This is just but a first step towards that attainable goal. I thank you, each and every one of you, for heeding our call and seizing this opportunity,” President Kenyatta said.
Noting that peace is inherently fragile and must be continually nurtured, the President said the state of peace in Kenya and the rest of the East African community has been fostered by continuous and robust collective efforts.
He gave the example of building Kenya as a state where people, in all their diversity, made great personal and community sacrifices to keep the flame of peace burning.
“Just to give two examples, our promulgation of the 2010 new Constitution as well as my 2018 Handshake with my rival in the last election, all called for steep sacrifices from our leaders and also from our people,” President Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta added that in such a grueling environment, Kenya has built an unwavering commitment to invest in peace and security initiatives across our sub-region.
President Tshisekedi praised the armed groups for agreeing to engage in dialogue with his government and said their positive response was an act of honor for their country.
He expressed his willingness to listen and guarantee the security of all armed groups, noting that the DRC will only develop if it has a national military and police force concerned with protecting the interests of all citizens to defend.
“I understand the different reasons that drew you to take up arms. However, to develop our country, we need to build and sustain national defence forces and police that are keen to defend the daughters and sons of DRC,” President Tshisekedi said.
He called on all armed groups to accept the process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and reinsertion to help in the reconstruction of the nation for the benefit of all Congolese citizens.
“This is a process that will take into account all concerns. We are going to obtain the technical and other support from many donors to enable us to succeed,” President Tshisekedi added.
Representatives of over 30 armed groups participated in the talks with the majority accepting the request of the two Heads of State to lay down arms while a few requested to be given more time to appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to join hands in building their country.