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DRC welcomes EAC deployment of regional military force

EAC troops in training recently in Jinja. They will soon be deployed in DRC

Kinshasa, DRC | Xinhua | The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said Friday that it welcomes the deployment of a new regional military force led by the East African Community (EAC) to enforce peace in the provinces targeted by the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23), according to a statement by the DRC’s Ministry of Communication.

Since late March, M23 has been on the offensive in DRC’s northeastern North Kivu province, with thousands of civilians displaced by still ongoing fighting. Bunagana, a key strategic town bordering Uganda, reportedly fell into the hands of rebels on Monday.

On Wednesday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who currently chairs the East African Community (EAC), called for the immediate deployment of a new regional military force to try to stop rebel violence in the eastern DRC, where dozens of armed groups have been active for more than two decades.

According to the statement, Kinshasa would not “accept the participation of Rwanda in this joint force.” The DRC closed its border with Rwanda Friday after a Congolese soldier was shot dead while attacking border guards inside Rwandan territory.

Besides the haunting nightmare of the M23, Kinshasa now faces a diplomatic tug of war with Kigali, with the latter having been accused of supporting the M23 rebels. In early June, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi publicly claimed that there was “no doubt” that Rwanda was backing the M23 on the Congolese territory.

Rwanda has denied the charge and instead accused the Congolese army of allying itself with Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), active in eastern DRC, whose elements are blamed for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

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Xinhua

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