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DR Congo agrees to EAC force deployment without Rwandan army

Saturday June 18 2022
Kenya Defence Forces soldiers in Somalia on November 22, 2015. 

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers in Somalia on November 22, 2015. EAC is considering deploying a standby force to quell violence in eastern DR Congo. PHOTO | NMG

By PARTICK ILUNGA

The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will not welcome Rwandan troops to be part of the proposed deployment of military forces from the East African Community.

The decision on deployment of the East African Standby Force is expected to be affirmed on Sunday when military chiefs for the EAC gather in Nairobi to deliberate on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call to deploy and pacify the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri.

But that deployment faces hurdles as DR Congo and Rwanda tiff over allegations of Kigali sponsoring M23 rebels that have scaled up hostilities against the Congolese army and civilians. Rwanda denies the charges.

DRC will not accept the Rwandan military in the joint forces to be deployed in its troubled provinces, the government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a press statement on Friday.

“The government of DRC welcomes the proposal made by President Kenyatta of deploying a new regional military force led by the East African Community to enforce peace in the provinces targeted by M23 and Rwanda but insists that it will not accept the participation of Rwanda in this joint force,” he said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday called for the urgent activation of an intervention force to help quell the violence in eastern Congo.

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Read: Uhuru wants boots on ground in DRC

This week, the tiff between Rwanda and DR Congo spilt into parliament in Kinshasa, which declined to discuss recent memoranda between the two sides.

Kinshasa on Wednesday announced it was severing all bilateral deals with Rwanda, amid anti-Rwanda protests by Congolese over Kigali’s alleged support of the M23.

Read: DRC suspends bilateral pacts with Rwanda

Nicaise Kibel Bel, a Congolese military and security expert, says the many parties involved may proverbially spoil the broth, especially since not everyone is interested in peace in eastern DR Congo.

The deployment is “a good initiative, especially as all neighbouring countries aspire to peace and trade,” he said, adding that there are “fears that some divergent interests of different forces may occur and weaken that good initiative”.

In the three most troubled provinces of eastern DRC, more than 100 local and foreign armed groups with divergent interests have been operating for many years. These armed groups impose a permanent war situation on the DRC’s armed forces (FARDC) and UN peacekeepers, whose presence on Congolese soil dates back more than 20 years.

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