East African troops deploy against M23 in Congo


Kenya is set to deploy a battalion of soldiers to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a regional military response to advancing M23 rebels. Kenya will command the new East African force, which will include troops from Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda. A notable absentee from this intervention will be Rwanda: Congo accuses Kigali of supporting M23, and tensions are soaring. In the past weeks, M23 has dramatically expanded the territory it controls, forcing UN peacekeepers to abandon a strategic base at Rumangabo, and closing in on the key city of Goma. In a region with a history of foreign meddling—in which more than 120 rebel groups operate—the East African deployment is distrusted. Both Burundi and Uganda already have troops inside Congo pursuing their own interests. It remains unclear how the new East African force will be funded; how it will coordinate with UN peacekeepers (in which Kenya also has a contingent); and what its exit strategy will be. Some are urgently calling for regional dialogue as the solution to Congo’s instability, fearing the military option will only make matters worse.

From The New Humanitarian, Nov. 4

See our last report on M23 and the war in eastern DRC.

Map: CIA

  1. DR Congo’s M23 rebels make new gains

    Fighting between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group has escalated in the eastern province of North Kivu. The rebels reportedly made gains around the villages of Tonga and Kibumba, and the military responded by engaging fighter planes and tanks. Reports suggest the group is now moving westwards towards Masisi territory, though there are fears they may also push south toward Goma—the largest town in the east—which is now just 20 kilometers from the front line. On Nov. 16, the head of the recently created East African military force in DR Congo vowed to protect Goma, which was briefly seized by the M23 during a prior rebellion in 2012. More than 262,000 people have been displaced since the conflict re-ignited in March. (TNH)

  2. DRC: M23 reject disarmament call

    A summit of African leaders in Angola has resulted in calls for the immediate withdrawal of the M23 armed group from its occupied areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda, which is accused by UN experts and the US government of backing the Congolese rebels, was among those to call for a ceasefire. However, an M23 spokesperson protested that the group wasn’t part of the talks, and fighting remains ongoing. (TNH)