Kenya Deploys Troops to Congo to Help End Decades of Bloodshed

Nairobi: On Wednesday Kenya’s President William Ruto officially deployed soldiers to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to join an East African regional force aiming to end decades of bloodshed.

The seven nations of the East African Community (EAC), which Congo joined this year, concurred in April to set up a joint force to fight militia groups in Congo’s east. The Kenyan soldiers will join a contingent from Burundi.

Regardless of billions of dollars spent on one of the United Nation’s biggest peacekeeping forces, more than 120 armed groups continue to operate across large swathes of east Congo, including the M23 rebels, which Congo has repeatedly blamed Rwanda of supporting. Kigali denies the claims.

Uganda has already sent troops into Congo as part of separate deployment to chase down an Islamic State-linked armed militants, one of the warring groups in eastern Congo.

“We all have a stake in a stable Democratic Republic of Congo and its security,” President Ruto said at a send-off ceremony for the troops in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Ruto said the United Nations and African Union had given tacit backing to the Kenyan deployment. A U.N. representative did not immediately respond to a request to affirm whether the body had formally approved the deployment. A U.N. source told the media there has been some vulnerability around Kenya’s deployment because Nairobi wanted international funding, which needs an official mandate from the U.N. Security Council or the A.U.

“We have been working very hard to mobilise the international community to support the east African force,” Kenya’s defence minister Aden Duale said at the event. On Wednesday morning a few thousand people held a demonstration in the city of Bukavu, eastern Congo, against the provincial force because, they said, some of their enemies are member nations of the East African Community.

By Archana

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