Kenya sends armed forces to support the DRC
Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The government of Kenya is sending approximately 900 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Soldiers have already begun to arrive in Goma (eastern DRC). This deployment is part of the East African Community (EAC) bloc of nations that pledged to support the DRC.
Of immediate concern is the growing menace of the M23 militia. According to the DRC, the nation of Rwanda is behind the recent upsurge in violence.
Voice of America reports, “The M23’s resurgence has cratered relations between the DRC and its smaller neighbor Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing the M23.”
Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Obiero of Kenya said “offensive operations” are designed to stem the crisis. He continued, “Insecurity is something which breaks up the social fabric.” Therefore, a humanitarian component is equally essential.
The BBC reports, “Burundian soldiers are currently based at Luberezi near Bukavu in South Kivu. The Kenyan contingent will be stationed near Goma in North Kivu and will command the East African Community Regional Force.”
Fighting in the environs of Rugari in the troubled North Kivu region is continuing. Hence, Goma and other areas are naturally feeling the convulsions of war. Goma is an important commercial center for approximately one million people.
Stéphane Dujarric de la Rivière, the Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said the UN was “concerned over the deteriorating security situation…and the increase of attacks against civilians by the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO) and the M23 as well as the on-going presence of other foreign armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Red Tabara and the Forces Démocratique pour la libération de Rwanda (FDLR), which continue to pose a threat to regional stability.”
Patrick Muyaya, a spokesperson for the government of the DRC, uttered, “A massive arrival of elements of the Rwandan element to support the M232 terrorists” was witnessed by authorities.
Rwanda condemns the DRC for allegedly supporting the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). However, the DRC denies all ties to this Hutu movement. Therefore, the legacy of Hutu and Tutsi tension persists in parts of the DRC in eastern regions.
The United States Department of the Treasury said, “More than 90 percent of DRC gold is smuggled to regional states, including Uganda and Rwanda, where it is then often refined and exported to international markets, particularly the UAE. In eastern DRC, where there are approximately 130 active armed groups, the gold trade is a major driver of conflict…”
The provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu are the worst-hit areas concerning terrorism, ethnic massacres, external intrigues, and various insurgencies.
It will be difficult for the EAC to defeat the various insurgencies, terrorist groups, and cross-border forces that blight eastern areas of the DRC. However, the EAC seeks a regional solution rather than leaving it to nations from distant lands.
Kenya is also concerned about instability in Somalia related to the Islamist al-Shabaab (al-Shabab) terrorist group.
Also, Islamists formed in Uganda – the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – continue to commit atrocities against Christians and others in the DRC. Therefore, the EAC mission and the armed forces of the DRC face an uphill struggle to stabilize eastern parts of the DRC.
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