The Angolan parliament on Friday approved a year-long deployment of up to 500 soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a ceasefire brokered in the country’s capital Luanda between M23 rebels and DRC government troops collapsed.
All Angolan 178 lawmakers present in the country’s 220-member parliament voted for the military deployment.
Angola’s Minister of State and Military Head General Francisco Furtado, on Wednesday told local radio that Luanda would send between 450 to 500 soldiers to DRC for 12 months.
First announced by the Angolan presidency on Saturday, the deployment’s main objective would be to secure areas where M23 rebels are stationed and protect the team tasked with monitoring compliance with the DRC ceasefire.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco played a key mediation role in trying to end the conflict. But the latest ceasefire he negotiated collapsed last week on the same day it was due to take effect.
Luanda said the deployment decision was taken after consultations with Kinshasa, adding that other regional leaders as well as the United Nations had been informed.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is expected in Luanda on Saturday.
“M23 rebels have withdrawn this week from several villages in Eastern DRC,” officials in the region said on Thursday.
A recent lull in fighting came after the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group advanced closer to Goma, threatening to cut off road links to the city of over one million people located on the border with Rwanda.
The M23 is one of scores of armed groups that roam the volatile region.
In 2012, the Tutsi-led group briefly captured the provincial capital Goma before a joint DRC-UN offensive drove it out.
But fighting erupted again in late 2021 after the M23 accused the Kinshasa of ignoring promises to integrate its fighters into the army.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the group, something that Kigali denies.