The African Union on Sunday said it was worried about the deteriorating security situation in the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rebels have made fresh gains.

In a joint statement, AU Chairman Macky Sall and AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said expressed “extreme concern” at the failing security and appealed for calm and dialogue.

They called “on all the parties to establish an immediate cease-fire, respect international law, the safety and security of civilians,” the statement said.

The M23 rebels seized more territory in the vast, mineral-rich DRC on Saturday, prompting the U.N. peacekeeping mission to increase its “troop alert level” and boost support for the army.

The latest advance came as diplomatic relations between neighbors DRC and Rwanda worsened. The authorities in Kinshasa, who accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, on Saturday announced the Rwandan ambassador would be expelled, a move Kigali said was regrettable.

The AU urged all the parties to engage “in a constructive dialogue” to ensure peace in the troubled region.

M23, a mostly Congolese Tutsi group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the government of having failed to honor an agreement over the demobilization of its fighters.

It has since captured swaths of territory in North Kivu, including the key town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border in June.

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