The president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has called for the immediate deployment of a new regional military force to try to stop rebel violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
A statement by Kenyatta read:
“The East African Regional Force shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace in support of the DRC security forces and in close coordination with MONUSCO (UN peacekeeping force).”
The offensive by the M23, whose last major insurrection captured swaths of the eastern Congo countryside in 2012 and 2013, has rekindled tensions between Congo and neigbouring Rwanda. Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, including by sending its own troops across the border. Rwanda denies this.
The precise composition of the EAC force, including whether it would include Rwandan soldiers, has not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo twice in the 1990s, leading to wars that sucked in more than half a dozen regional countries, cost millions of lives and spawned militias that remain active to this day.
Kenya said preparations for the deployment should be finalised at a meeting of regional commanders in Nairobi on Sunday.