Kenya to Deploy in DRC Amid Regional Force Mandate Concerns

Kenyan Contigent under EACRF Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Denis Obiero

Kenya is set to send more troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amidst growing concerns over the renewal of the East African Community Regional Force mandate which will end in December this year.

Deputy Commander Kenya Army Major General David Tarus, on Thursday, visited troops in Isiolo who are set to travel for peacekeeping operations in the volatile region of Eastern Congo.

His routine visit, according to KDF, was geared towards assessing their preparedness ahead of the deployment.

The troops who will form part of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), have undergone rigorous pre-deployment training that is a multi-pronged training program that entails among others protection of civilians, Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) as well as tactical combat casualty care.

The Army Deputy Commander applauded both the instructors and the troops for the hard work they put into training, both in the physical and cognitive aspects that are necessary for the making of an all-rounded soldier.

The first Kenyan contingent to the Eastern DRC was flagged off a year ago by President William Ruto after the approval of its mandate by the EAC Heads of State to quell the increased threat of armed groups in the mineral-rich region.

This deployment comes at a time when there are renewed hostilities between armed groups fighting in the North Kivu region of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which signals a violation of an agreed ceasefire.

The escalations have led to deaths, injuries, and displacement of civilians in the ongoing clashes between the Wazalendo armed group and M23 rebels.

The regional body has voiced concerns over hostilities.

It says the escalations will hurt the entire peace bid initiated by the community under the Nairobi process.

“Such actions stand in stark contrast to the envisioned peaceful resolution of the conflict through the EAC-led Nairobi Process,”. Said EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki.

The EAC-led Nairobi process has been pursuing a political and diplomatic dialogue spearheaded by the Kenyan former leader, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyatta has also called on all parties involved in the conflict to respect the ceasefire and urged the combatants to give peace a chance.

However, officials in Kinshasa say the Regional Force will leave their territories by December 8, signaling a refusal to extend any further mandate for the troops.

The current EACRF mandate was extended, for the second time, in September for three months and will expire in December.

According to Communication Minister Patrick Muyaya, Kinshasa will not be granted further permission for a longer stay.

DR Congo’s message on the fate of the regional force, he said, has already been conveyed to the leaders of the East African Community, by the Congolese Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba, at the extraordinary meeting of the East African Community sectoral council on Defence Cooperation, held in Arusha last week.

The force drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and South Sudan has been accused of regional military tourism by Congolese authorities and citizens.

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