Heads of East African States have agreed to deploy a joint military force to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, DR Congo, to deal with the armed groups operating in that region.
At a summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday, the regional leaders resolved that such a force should be mobilised with immediate effect.
All Congolese armed groups operating in the restive eastern part of the country should unconditionally participate in a political process to resolve their grievances, a statement from the BBC News reports the summit as saying.
Those that do not, will be dealt with militarily, it adds.
Dozens of rebel groups operate in the mineral-rich region, some of which originate from neighbouring countries or are associated with DR Congo’s neighbours.
The last few weeks have seen a resurgence of one of the biggest fighting groups, the M23 rebels.
The group has attacked government army positions, captured villages in Rutshuru territory and displaced hundreds of people.
The Ugandan army has been operating in Ituri province since November last year, chasing the Allied Democratic Forces – a rebel group that originated in Uganda and which it accuses of staging a series of bombings in the country last year.
DR Congo joined the eight-member East African Community regional bloc this month, in what some analysts see as a move towards seeking joint solutions to its security challenges in the east.