December 10, 2022

Kenya deploys troops to Congo to help end decades of bloodshed

Kenya deploys troops to Congo to help end decades of bloodshed

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan President William Ruto deployed troops to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday to join a regional force in East Africa aimed at ending decades of bloodshed.

The seven countries of the East African Community, which Congo joined this year, agreed in April to set up a joint force to fight militia groups in eastern Congo. Kenyan forces will join a contingent from Burundi.

Despite spending billions of dollars on one of the largest UN peacekeepers, more than 120 armed groups continue to operate across vast swathes of eastern Congo, including the March 23rd Movement rebels, which Congo has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing. Kigali denies these allegations.

Uganda has already sent troops to Congo as part of a separate deployment to hunt down militants linked to the Islamic State, one of the warring groups in eastern Congo.

“We all have an interest in the stability and security of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Ruto said at a farewell ceremony in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Ruto said the United Nations and the African Union had provided “tacit” support for the Kenyan deployment.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Reuters Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had no delegated authority and that decisions about whether or not to fund such tasks were outside his purview.

A UN source told Reuters there was some ambiguity about the deployment of Kenyan forces because Nairobi wanted international funding, which would require formal authorization from the UN Security Council or the African Union.

“We have worked hard to mobilize the international community to support the East African force,” Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Duale said at the event.

Several thousand people on Wednesday morning staged a demonstration in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu against the regional power because some of their “enemies”, they said, are member states of the East African Community.

Additional reporting by Edwin Waita, Herward Holland and Mukilua Hlachwayo; Additional reporting by Crispin Kyalangalilwa; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by James Macharia Chege, William MacLean and Sandra Mahler

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