Kenya has sent troops to the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is faced with a major security challenge in the eastern part.
The troops who will be part of the East African Community (EAC) force were deployed on Wednesday, at a ceremony presided over by President William Ruto and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) chief General Robert Kibochi.
“I have talked to the UN Sec Gen, and chair of AU union who concurs that this deployment is important for regional peace and stability.” In making the deployment, President Ruto said he consulted UN Secretary-General and fellow regional Heads of State under the EAC.
“I have had extensive consultations with EAC leaders and we have all agreed that it is our collective responsibility to keep our region and the continent safe. In that extensive consultation, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary and urgent to make this deployment.”
The troops will join a regional force that includes soldiers from Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan.
“The mandate we have is to support DRC in collaboration with humanitarian agencies, support of DRC armed forces in maintaining law and order to contain the threat of armed groups,” General Kibichi said.
The African Union officials on Sunday appealed for an end to the growing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a day after rebels made further progress there and Kinshasa expelled Rwanda’s ambassador.
In their statement on Sunday, the AU officials called for an immediate ceasefire.
All parties, they said, should “respect international law, the safety and security of civilians and the stability at the borders of all countries in the region”.
The DR Congo government said on Saturday it was expelling Kigali’s envoy over what it said was Rwanda’s backing for the M23 rebels making fresh inroads in the east of the country.
Rwanda, which denies the accusation, on Sunday expressed regret at the decision, adding that its troops at the two countries’ border were on “high alert”.
The AU on Sunday urged all the parties to engage “in a constructive dialogue” to ensure peace in the troubled region, calling them to peace talks in Nairobi next month.
Angola’s President Joao Lourenco said he would dispatch his Foreign Minister Tete Antonio to DR Congo to mediate the dispute.
But Kinshasa’s announcement late Saturday suggests they have lost patience with regional mediation efforts.
In recent days “a massive arrival of elements of the Rwandan element to support the M23 terrorists” against DR Congo’s troops had been observed, said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.
Condemning what he described as a “criminal and terrorist” adventure, he announced the expulsion of Rwanda’s envoy Vincent Karega.
Hours earlier, reports had come in that the M23 rebels had seized more territory in the vast mineral-rich DRC, prompting the UN peacekeeping mission to increase its “troop alert level” and boost support for the army.