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Kenyan President William Ruto and his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourenco have called on the M23 rebels fighting government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to join a military garrison
The two men were speaking at a press conference in Nairobi following talks during a two-day state visit by Lourenco to Kenya.
“Jointly we have made good progress but we have become stagnant on one item. We need to have the M23 cantonment carried out,” said Lourenco.
The two leaders said that if the M23 militia were to join a military garrison, it would facilitate achieving peace in the eastern part of the DRC.
The Rwanda-backed rebels launched an offensive in the region in late 2021, defeating the Congolese army and capturing swathes of North Kivu, driving over one million people from their homes.
The eastern part of the DRC has been plagued by violence from local and foreign armed groups for nearly 30 years.
“We believe that it is an achievable aim to engage in consultation, stabilise the eastern part of the DRC, and allow the people of the country in general, to benefit from their progress, from their development, and from stability and progress in their region,” said Ruto.
During the talks, the two men also said they would push for the resumption of direct flights between Nairobi and Luanda as part of efforts to spur bilateral trade between their countries.
Ruto said Kenya-Angola trade has been on the rise in the past four years, but said more needs to be done to unlock the potential.
They also announced the activation of a visa-free regime to ease the free movement of people and facilitate a wider interaction of diverse ideas, resources, and businesses.
In addition, Kenya pledged to support Angola’s candidature for membership in the African Union Peace and Security Council, and 11 legal instruments were signed.