Egypt respects the sovereignty of DR Congo, Sisi tells Kabila

Ahram Online , Saturday 22 Apr 2017

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on April 22, 2017 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila at the presidential palace in Cairo AFP

Egypt respects the "full sovereignty" of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over its lands and rejects any interference in its domestic affairs, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said afteer talks with Joseph Kabila in Cairo on Saturday.

In a joint press conference with his Congolese counterpart at the presidential palace, El-Sisi said that Egypt will continue to support DR Congo in facing challenges through several initiatives, including the participation of Egyptian forces in a UN mission to help restore stability in the country by supporting the Congolese army in facing armed groups in eastern Congo.

"I told President Kabila of our conviction that it is important to have a move by the international community to support efforts to defeat such groups, as well as putting in place effective mechanisms to put an end to the illegitimate exploitation of the [Congo's] natural resources," El-Sisi said.

Kabila, who came to power in 2001 and was first elected president in 2006, expressed his appreciation of Egypt's strong historical relationship with his country, praising Egypt's stance in supporting peace and security in Africa and its participation in UN peacekeeping missions in eastern DR Congo.

Kabila also discussed ongoing arrangements to implement a December 2016 political agreement aimed at preventing the country from sliding into chaos.

In December 2016, Congo's opposition leaders signed a deal with Kabila, whose term in office had ended earlier that month, requiring him to step down after elections set to take place before the end of 2017.

The meeting between El-Sisi and Kabila comes one day after thousands of refugees were forced to flee DR Congo to neighbouring Angola to escape the ongoing fighting between the country's army and armed groups.

Thousands have fled Kasai-Central province amid clashes between local militias and Congolese forces that started last August, with some 9,000 refugees crossing into neighbouring Angola since the beginning of this month alone, according to the UNHCR.

The latest round of violence in the central African country, which has been mired in conflict over land, ethnic clashes and minerals, worsened since security forces killed Kamwina Nsapu, the leader of the opposition armed group of the Bajila Kasanja clan, in 2016.

The killing of Nsapu has sparked a rebellion against security forces in the impoverished Kasai region.

Fighting in Kasai has resulted in more than 400 deaths and the displacement of more than one million people, with the United Nations recently identifying 40 mass graves.

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