South Sudan deploys more troops to DR Congo

South Sudan deploys more troops to DR Congo
South Sudan deploys more troops to DR Congo

Africa-Press – South-Sudan. The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) on Monday, April 3, sent more troops to eastern DR Congo to reinforce the East African Community regional force.

Their deployment is part of the EAC’s unrelenting search for a sustainable solution to the decades long problem of insecurity in eastern DR Congo.

A day earlier, an “advance party” of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, arrived in Goma, the capital of DR Congo’s North Kivu province.

The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces on Monday 3rd April 2023 sent more troops to the Eastern DRC as part of EACRF. The additional troops will join their colleagues who arrived on 2 April 2023 & deploy to Rumangabo Forward Operating Base where they will be co-located with KDF.

As noted, the additional troops will join their colleagues who arrived on April 2 and “deploy to Rumangabo forward operating base where they will be co-located with KDF [Kenya Defence Forces].” The Kenya Defence Forces provided strategic airlift and logistics support to the South Sudan contingent from Juba International Airport to Goma International Airport.

The regional force, which initially comprised Kenyan troops, was first deployed to eastern DR Congo in November 2022.

Earlier, in Juba, South Sudan President Salva Kiir, in a statement read by the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Gen Chol Thon, expressed his confidence in the SSPDF troops under EACRF, in carrying out their mission professionally, as they are well-trained and oriented to uphold the international and humanitarian law.

We must work hard towards mission accomplishment – Deputy Force Commander

While receiving the additional troops at the airport, according to the KDF, the regional force’s Deputy Force Commander, Brig Gen Emmanuel Kaputa, implored them to work closely with their colleagues in the joint operation area towards realizing peace and stability.

“We have a mandate and mission as EACRF, that we must work hard towards its accomplishment,” said Kaputa.

Kenya Defence Forces provided Strategic Airlift and Logistics Support to the South Sudan Contingent under EACRF from Juba International Airport to Goma International Airport in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The deployment of SSPDF marks the final phase of deployment of regional troops into eastern DR Congo as directed by the EAC Heads of State during their extra-ordinary Summit held in Bujumbura on February 4.

As noted, the SSPDF’s arrival marks a critical and significant milestone towards enhancing peace and stability in eastern DR Congo.

The full deployment of the regional force will enhance the sequenced and orderly withdrawal of M23 to the designated cantonment areas, protection of civilians, open up the Bunagana-Rutshuru-Rumangabo-Goma and Kitchanga-Sake-Goma main supply routes.

It will also subsequently support the disarmament, demobilization, community recovery and stabilization programme of all armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

According to the Ugandan army spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, on April 2, Uganda’s contingent of the regional force officially occupied areas of Bunagana after the M23 rebels left the area for UPDF.

Bunagana is a small but strategic town in DR Congo’s Rutshuru territory in North Kivu Province, at the border with Uganda, which fell in the hands of the rebels in June 2022.

The M23 rebellion re-emerged in November 2021, launching an offensive against the Congolese army, FARDC, and quickly capturing key regions in North Kivu province.

In a March 30 statement, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni – who was responding to media reports that claimed that the Ugandan troops would fight the rebels fighting the Congolese government forces in North Kivu – said that the UPDF will support the peace plan agreed between the Congolese government and the M23, including the rebels’ withdrawal.

Museveni said the soldiers would act as “a neutral force as the Congolese use the time to sort out their political problems.” The UPDF’s initial mission is to occupy some of the positions that the M23 rebels already handed over to the East African Force as a neutral force, Musevein said, “instead of the Congolese Army which the M-23 see as enemies or armed opponents in their internal politics.”

In November 2022, South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced that his country would deploy 750 soldiers in the regional force whose mandate is to support efforts to restore peace and security in the restive region of eastern DR Congo.

Since its deployment in November 2022, the regional force now has troops from Uganda, Kenya and Burundi and South Sudan, which have taken control of most areas vacated by M23 rebels.

The M23 began its withdrawal with Kibumba town, in December 2022, in compliance with the Luanda agreement penned by regional leaders earlier in November.

The rebels also withdrew from Rumangabo military base in January.

Burundian troops took over control of areas such as Karuba, Mushaki, Kirolirwe and part of Kitchanga that were also vacated by the rebels.

Kenyan troops now occupy areas such as Kibumba and the Rumangabo military base which the rebels gave up in December 2022 and January 2023, respectively. Despite its gains in persuading the M23 to withdraw, the regional force faces pressure from Congolese politicians and civil society who want it to launch an offensive against the M23 rebels.

As per the Luanda roadmap, the military solution is supposed to be the last option.

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Museveni explains Uganda’s troop deployment to DR Congo

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