Monday, leaders of the East African Community (EAC) confirmed the formation of a regional military force whose goal is to maintain peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The decision was taken at State House in Nairobi by Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Evariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan), and Felix Tshisekedi (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), who instructed the force to deploy immediately.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan was represented at the meeting by High Commissioner John Stephen Simbachawene, the country's ambassador to Kenya.
"The Heads of State accepted and adopted the concept of operation, Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Rules of Engagement (ROE), and other legal and technical regulations to facilitate the operationalization of the Regional Force and its various operational arms," the Kenyan presidency stated in part in a communique issued after the meeting.
The communiqué specified that the regional force would be deployed in the DRC's North and South Kivu regions and the Ituri province, which are in dire need of peace and security.
In addition, the chiefs of defense forces from all seven East African Community Partner States were present at the meeting.
The chiefs of state instructed the regional force to collaborate with the armed and administrative forces of the DRC, as well as to assist in implementing the disarmament and demobilization process.
In addition, they demanded a quick ceasefire and halt of hostilities in the dangerous regions of the DRC, as well as the withdrawal of soldiers from recently occupied positions.
"All parties should intensify the political process in order for the citizens of the DRC to feel safe and secure and to be able to resume their respective social, cultural, and economic activities," the message stated.
Monday marked the first meeting between Tshisekedi and Kagame since Kinshasa accused Kigali of backing the M23 rebels, who are wreaking havoc in eastern DRC. Rwanda has denied providing aid to the rebels.
The security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has precipitated a humanitarian catastrophe, compelling aid workers to cease humanitarian activities owing to insecurity.
Several rebel factions have fought for territorial control against each other or the country's military and UN forces for decades in the DRC.
According to the United Nations, the exploitation of natural resources continues to be a core cause and driver of conflict, with most armed organizations abandoning their political goals in favor of mineral trafficking.
In the previous two years, insecurity and violence have displaced more than 5 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with roughly 2 million displaced in North Kivu province alone, according to UN estimates.