Kenya on Wednesday deployed troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of a regional military intervention to support the Congolese regime against rebels operating in eastern DRC, Kenyan President William Ruto announced.
“As neighbors, the fate of the DRC is linked to ours,” President Ruto said in Nairobi at a ceremony, noting that the regional contingent also includes troops from Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan, sent “on a mission to protect humanity.”
In April this year, leaders of the East African Community (EAC) agreed to establish a joint force to help restore security in the region.
Speaking at a ceremony in Nairobi, Ruto said the troops were “on a mission to protect humanity”.
“As neighbours, the destiny of DRC is intertwined with ours,” he added.
“We will not allow any armed groups, criminals, and terrorists to deny us our shared prosperity.”
Kenya will command the force, which will also include soldiers from Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan.
A Rwandan contingent will be deployed along the border after Kinshasa objected to Kigali’s participation in any operations within the DRC.
Military officials in Nairobi declined to reveal the number of Kenyan soldiers involved, citing “obvious security reasons”.
A UN force, known by its French acronym of MONUSCO, is already operating in the DRC. Uganda and Burundi also sent troops to the DRC earlier at the invitation of the Congolese government.
The M23 rebels, a mostly Congolese group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the DRC government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.
Fresh advances by the militia across North Kivu province last month prompted the UN peacekeeping mission there to increase its alert level and boost support for the Congolese army.
The M23’s resurgence has had resounding repercussions for relations in central Africa.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the militia, claims denied by Kigali.