East African leaders headed to Burundi on Saturday for a regional summit called to discuss the raging conflict in eastern DR Congo.
The East Africa Community, which is driving mediation attempts to resolve the revived conflict in the huge central African nation's restive east, is hosting the talks in Bujumbura.
“Agenda: Evaluation of the Security Situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo & Way Forward,” the EAC said as it announced the extraordinary summit.
President Felix Tshisekedi will attend, according to a Congolese administration spokesperson.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is accused of supporting rebel groups in the east, has arrived in Bujumbura, according to an airport source, along with several other EAC heads of state.
The meeting follows Pope Francis' visit to Kinshasa, where he spoke with conflict victims and decried the "inhumane violence" and "brutal atrocities" going place.
Militias have plagued the mineral-rich region for decades, with many of them left over from regional hostilities that erupted in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Since November 2021, the M23 rebel group has gained territory in the east and has advanced to within miles (kilometers) of its main commercial hub, Goma.
The DRC accuses its smaller central African neighbour Rwanda of supporting the M23, which UN experts, the US, and other Western countries all concur on.
Kigali disputes the accusation.
Tshisekedi and Kagame were supposed to meet in Qatar last week, but the Congolese leader rejected them, according to officials.
Tensions between the two countries rose last week when the Rwandan military opened fire on a Congolese fighter jet that they claimed had breached Rwandan airspace.
Kinshasa denounced it as an attack that amounted to "an act of war".
Last year, the EAC resolved to establish a military force to pacify eastern Congo, with the first troops arriving in Goma in November.
The soldiers have the authority to use force to expel M23 fighters, but they have yet to do so.
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda comprise the EAC.
Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is mediating on behalf of the EAC, expressed worry last month about the "sharply deteriorating" situation in the east.
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