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

Kenyan troops are heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a force sent by the East African Community.

The multinational forces will try to guard civilians in eastern provinces that are home to dozens of armed groups which fight for political control and control of the region’s rich mines. In a ceremony at a military training camp in Nairobi, Kenyan President William Ruto said his country will help facilitate peace and stability in Zaire.

photo cntlive

Kenya will be the second east African nation to send troops to the eastern DRC after Burundi.

Officials did not disclose the number of troops Kenya is sending to the DRC but said it has the capability to do the job.

Kenya will station its troops some 10 kilometres from Goma city, where they will conduct operations in an effort to return normalcy to the region.

The M23 terrorist group, which opposes the Congolese government, was first active in the eastern province of North Kivu a decade ago. Made up mostly of people from the Tutsi ethnic group, the rebel force is thought to have links to neighbouring Rwanda.

Since October 20, at least 50,000 people have fled their homes according to the United Nations and moved to displaced persons camps around the city of Goma.

In a televised speech on Thursday, November 3, the so cold Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi called on young people to organize themselves into vigilante groups to face the advance of M23. By November 5, more than 3,000 young people had signed up for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), according to Colonel Ndakala Faustin, who is in charge of recruitment in the North Kivu district. Since then, a number of videos showing soldiers overseeing young people marching.

Some Congolese civilians and politicians opposed the deployment of more troops to the region. They accuse the thousands of U.N. peacekeepers already present of failing to protect civilians against armed groups.

The DRC was admitted earlier this year to the East African Community regional bloc, becoming the seventh member.

Zairean troops are engaged in a fight against the M23 terrorist group, which is accused of targeting civilians.

The recent M23 offensive has taken place against a backdrop of rising tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23. However, the Rwandan government denies this and accuses the Congolese government of supporting a rebellion led by members of the Hutu ethnic group based in Zaire.

On Saturday, November 5, the Congolese government expelled the Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega, after months of growing tensions between the two countries over the M23.

Back in late 2012, the M23 occupied Goma for ten days, before being ousted by the Congolese Armed Forces and United Nations peacekeepers. The rebel movement took up arms again in late 2021 after accusing the Congolese government of failing to respect agreements on the reintegration of former fighters.

On Wednesday morning several thousand people held a demonstration in the city of Bukavu, eastern Congo, against the regional force because, they said, some of their “enemies” are member countries of the East African Community.

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