President Paul Kagame on Monday, June 20 arrived in Kenya for the third East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Conclave on DR Congo. The Rwandan president joins his counterparts from the region, including DR Congo’s Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, who arrived in the Kenyan capital Sunday ahead of the crunch talks. The high-profile regional summit, the third such gathering in a space of just over two months, is hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current EAC chairperson. The talks are set to focus on issues around the inter-Congolese dialogue under the ‘Nairobi Process’ on the peace and security situation in eastern DR Congo, an official told The New Times. DR Congo is the newest member of the seven-nation bloc, the others being Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Amb. Isaiya Kabira, the director general in charge of communications at Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the third EAC Heads of State Conclave is meant to “harness the value of” ongoing initiatives aimed at bringing peace to eastern DR Congo. The meeting was due to start at 11a.m EAT (10a.m Rwandan time) at State House, Nairobi, he said. The previous round of talks, held in April, drew the leaders of Burundi, DR Congo, Uganda and hosts Kenya. Rwanda was then represented by the Minister for Foreign and International Cooperation. “The situation of peace and security, particularly in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is preponderant. The people have long suffered and continue to pay an inordinately heavy price in loss of lives, property and elusive peace,” Amb Kabira said in a statement. The first and second conclaves were held on April 8 and 21, respectively. During the second conclave, the leaders agreed to the deployment of a regional force to deal with armed groups in the Congo. Mid-way through the inter-Congolese dialogue, there were signs of optimism with at least 30 Congolese armed groups involved in the talks in Nairobi. However, things soon took a nosedive when disagreements emerged between Kinshasa and the M23 rebels, who have since been designated by Tshisekedi’s government as terrorists and sidelined from the Nairobi talks. Fighting has since resumed between the two sides, with the M23 rebels seizing the key town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda and surrounding areas in recent days. DR Congo has accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, but Kigali has rejected the accusations, with the UN force in the Congo (MONUSCO) also saying they had no evidence of Rwanda’s involvement. Meanwhile, tensions have flared up between the two neighbours, with Kigali blaming Kinshasa of escalating cross-border provocations, with the latest incident taking place only last week when an armed Congolese soldier crossed the common border in Rubavu and opened fire at Rwandan security and migration personnel before he was shot dead 25 metres inside the Rwandan territory. The Nairobi meeting also takes place amid growing concerns over proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence against both Rwandophone Congolese and Rwandan nationals and many Congolese streets have since been taken over by marauding mobs armed with machetes and searching for those they have branded “enemies”. Shocking videos and pictures have since surfaced on social media of civilians being attacked and hacked or burnt to death in broad-day light, with the deteriorating situation prompting MONUSCO to publicly express concerns. Regional force proposed Meanwhile, consultations on the proposed deployment of a regional force in eastern DR Congo were held in Nairobi on Sunday, drawing military chiefs from EAC partner states. It was, however, unclear which countries were represented in the meeting. The Kenyan government had earlier said the meeting of the military chiefs was meant to finalise plans for the deployment. On June 6, the chiefs of defence forces from EAC partner states had met in Goma,the capital of the North Kivu Province, DR Congo, to agree on the initial modalities of establishing the joint force.