South Sudan to Deploy 750 Troops to Join Regional Force in Fight Against Rebels in DRC
© AFP 2023 / SAMIR BOLSouth Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (C) attends the departure ceremony of the South Sudan People's Defence Forces (SSPDF) as they are deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the SSPDF Headquarters in Juba on December 28, 2022. - South Sudan will send 750 soldiers to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo soon to join a regional force fighting a rebel offensive, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
© AFP 2023 / SAMIR BOL
As the M23 rebel group keeps up its insurgency across North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, constituting a major threat to the whole region's stability, neighboring states are gradually increasing their military presence in the country, sending troops as part of a joint effort to ensure security in the area.
South Sudan will deploy 750 soldiers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the East African Regional Force fighting against rebels in the eastern part of the country, a spokesman for the South Sudan People's Defense Forces, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, announced on Wednesday.
During the departure ceremony in the country's capital, Juba, the military spokesman stated that the troops have been undergoing training for more than six months to prepare them for deployment and now are expected to “leave for the DR Congo as soon as possible”.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in turn, addressed the soldiers, exhorting them to keep order, and protect civilians.
The announcement comes nearly four months after more than 50,000 fighters - including former rebels loyal to the president and his rival, vice-president Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon - were integrated into the country's army, a key condition of the 2018 peace deal that ended the five-year civil war.
“I want to tell you that you are one army and no matter which division you come from, now you are going as soldiers of South Sudan,” the president said at the event in Juba, according to local media.
South Sudan's Minister of Defense, Angelina Teny, also highlighted the importance of the operation as this is the first time since the country's independence that the state has been part of a mission aimed at bringing stability and peace to the region, as well as to all its borders.
The East African Community (EAC) decided to create a joint regional force as tensions increased in the DRC territory and the M23 advanced across North Kivu province in April this year. The force will include soldiers from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan. The EAC's first troop deployment to a member country is expected to settle the ongoing conflict, ensure security in the region and enhance the peace process.
20 November 2022, 17:36 GMT
The March 23 Movement, also known as M23, is a largely Congolese armed group, which was formed in 2012 and operates mainly in the province of North Kivu in the eastern DRC. The group started an armed rebellion against the DRC government that ended with a peace treaty in 2013. In late 2021 it started fighting again, seizing large parts of the country and accusing the government of breaking a promise to incorporate its fighters into the army.