The commander of the East African Community military force deployed in eastern DR Congo has said political and diplomatic processes are “the first priority” among efforts to pacify the country’s restive region. Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah, from Kenya, said the military option does not always guarantee peace. “Sometimes, war does not necessarily bring peace. You have to pursue diplomacy,” Gen Nyagah told journalists in Goma on Wednesday, November 16. He said there were a number of options to end the conflict in eastern DR Congo, a region that has known no peace for over two decades and is home to multiple armed groups. The current conflict between government forces FARDC and the M23 rebel group has intensified since October 20. An estimated 188,000 people have been internally displaced. The political process was “the first priority,” among the options to be considered, Gen Nyagah said, referring to the Nairobi talks between the Congolese government and the armed groups operating in the country’s east and the Luanda roadmap, which was signed in Angola in July between Rwanda and DR Congo presidents. “The second track, and is very critical for you to note, is the issue of disarmament and demobilisation not only targeting M23 – because we seem to focus on M23. We have over 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, and they have instigated a significant degree of insecurity. “If these two tracks fail, then we’ll automatically transit to the third track, that is military action.” Kenya has already deployed troops in eastern DR Congo as part of the regional efforts. The latest cohort arrived in Goma last week. Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC facilitator in the eastern DR Congo peace process, has called on all the armed groups to lay down their arms and allow dialogue to take place. The latest intense fighting between FARDC and M23 on Friday, November 11 led to further displacements. Over 100 Congolese refugees have since crossed to Rwanda, as fighting approached Goma the capital of North Kivu Province. The Nairobi talks are expected to resume on November 21. The EAC bloc has called for inclusivity in the process for a lasting solution to take hold. Three provinces in eastern DR Congo, North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, have been the sanctuary for local and foreign armed groups, which have wreaked havoc and led to loss of lives. These groups include the FDLR, a militia who members are accused of perpetrating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Rwanda has accused DR Congo of providing logistical support to FDLR. Kinshasa has not denied the accusation and instead describes the FDLR as a ‘weakened’ group. Kigali says the Congolese army has collaborated with the FDLR in shelling rockets on the Rwandan territory three times since May this year. The Congolese government accuses Rwanda of providing support to the M23 rebel group, which has resulted in the expulsion of the Rwandan ambassador – a decision Rwanda described as ‘regrettable.’ Efforts to de-escalate tensions between the two countries are underway and include the Luanda roadmap.