A little over two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposal to deploy the East African Standby Force (EASF) to eastern DRC, there are no field operations.
The proposal was supported by Regional leaders at the Third Conclave of EAC Heads of State on Peace and Security in Eastern DRC on June 20 in Nairobi.
But if reactions in DRC are to be believed, it could it may take even longer or not happen.
The EASF is expected to face several armed militias and M23 rebels who have intensified attacks on civilians in recent months, killing tens of thousands and killing thousands
Read:EAC leaders advocate deployment of troops to stabilize Congo
But no matter how noble President Kenyatta’s deployment proposal, not all in of the Democratic Republic of the Congo agree with the decision of the regional leadership of a military solution to stabilize the troubled eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The proposal was greeted with suspicion and even suspicion by a large part of the politicians, civil society and even the public, who are particularly concerned about the possibility of having Rwandan troops in the contingent. Kinshasa had already opposed Rwanda sending troops to Nairobi during the third conclave.
In a swift response, on June 20, the 10-year-old citizen movement and civil society group called Lucha ( Struggle for Change) wrote President Félix Tshisekedi opposed the deployment as it could pose an operational problem in an area home to more than 100 local and foreign armed groups, the Congolese army, UN peacekeepers and the Ugandan army.
Aggression allegations< /h3>
In the letter, Lucha says that she “strongly opposes the project of deploying a new regional force”.
“All the armies of the East African Community States are already present in the east of our country in one or other form.The Rwandan Army is linked to the M23 in North Kivu and supports the Red-Tabara [Congo-based Burundian rebellion].The Ugandan Army you’ve invited en, has been openly operating in North Kivu and Ituri since November 2021. The Burundian army regularly operates in South Kivu and the South Sudanese army in Haut-Uele province [northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo]. The Tanzanian and Kenyan armies are already present as part of the UN Intervention Brigade in North Kivu and Ituri,” the letter said.
“At least three out of seven member states of the East African Community have been involved for more than two Decades in the aggression and destabilization of our country through direct interventions by their armies or through proxies by armed groups. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi accuse each other of destabilization. They compete for influence, even control over part of our country for security, economic and geopolitical reasons, so much so that more than once they have had to confront each other directly or through armed groups on our territory,” writes Lucha.
Many in the DRC also fear that Uganda, Burundi and perhaps Rwanda, three countries whose rebel groups are hiding in Congo, may face different situations that add to an already complex situation in the east of the DRC Congo could complicate.
For these reasons, Lucha does not mince his words and calls on the Congolese head of state to “stop this project immediately”.
“It is not enough, the Rwandan army excluded from this regional force, the participation of the Ugandan, Burundian and South Sudanese armies is also undesirable,” emphasizes Lucha.< /p>
Read:DRC agrees to deploy EAC troops without Rwandan army
President Tshisekedi has to make difficult decisions . H His main political opponent, Martin Fayulu, accuses him of “carrying out the country’s security to Rwanda and Uganda and unnecessarily creating competition between East African countries over Congo.” He called on the president to reveal “his secret deal.” p>
Read:How the EAC force could change the dynamics of the conflict in Congo
MPs have also been on the front lines against the deployment. MP Delly Sessanga said: “The Nairobi Accord raises more questions than it answers. He added: “Peace cannot be bought at the risk of becoming a vassal state. Peace must be built and earned.” Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) – said he sees no point in the regional force because the Congolese army will deal with the rebels.
“I think the best way doing things is keeping an eye on our army,” Kasongo said.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege warned: “The regional force, made up of countries at the root of Destabilization, atrocities and the plundering of our resources will not bring stability nor peace and risks that aggravate the situation.”
The conclave communiqué said that the regional Troop will be deployed once all the logistics have been worked out by the relevant EAC bodies.
The conclave was presented with a detailed military career report by the Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces, General Robert Kiboc. Hello, in his own right aft as Chairman of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Forces of the East African Community.
He issued a concept of operations, an agreement on the status of the armed forces, rules of engagement and other legal and technical regulations to facilitate the operationalization of the regional force and their various deployment arms. The regional armed forces are also expected to cooperate in implementing the disarmament and demobilization process.
The heads of state accepted General Kibochi’s presentation for immediate implementation.
Both the Sector Council on Defense Cooperation and the EAC Council of Ministers are expected to present a budget and deployment force composition, but the final decision will be made at the EAC Heads of State meeting scheduled for next month, said Dr Kevit Desai, Kenya’s chief secretary at the Ministry of EAC and regional affairs.
There are no timetables and no one can say exactly how long it will take for these discussions and agreements to be finalized, but the reality is that the violence has not stopped. A growing number of civilians – even those who were previously outside rebel-hit areas – are now facing growing sectarian violence fueled by the spread of information about foreigners meddling in DRC.
< p>The Medicins Sans Frontiers, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention Alice Wairimu Nderitu have expressed concern at the escalation of hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, particularly against spokespeople of Kinyarwanda.
Hate speech has been spread online by political party members, community leaders, civil society actors and members of the Congolese diaspora.
“Hate speech fuels the conflict by increasing mistrust between communities. It focuses on issues that were previously less important, stimulates an ‘us versus them’ discourse and disintegrates social cohesion between communities that previously lived together,” they told President Felix Tshisekedi on EAC Affairs, Prof Serge Tshibangu Nzenza , is optimistic. “As we speak, the regional force has not yet been deployed. But it will be deployed in a few days,” he said in an interview with The East African on Thursday.
The third conclave was attended by Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Evariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo). Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hasan was treated by Dr. John Steven Simbachawene, High Commissioner for Kenya.
Since May 2022, 23 civilians have died in fighting between the Congolese army and M23, including three children, according to the UN .
There have been allegations and denials between DR Congo, Kigali and Kampala over the violence. Last week, the Speaker of the DR Congo National Assembly accused Uganda of siding with M23 and Rwanda during the battle for the town of Bunagana in North Kivu on June 13.
Conversely, Rwanda has the DR Congo accused of aggression and conspiracy with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebellion militia.
“From where we were seated, the only change we’ve noticed since the Nairobi meeting is that the M23 opened the border at Bunagana,” said Theo Wanteu, MSF Uganda head of operations, in an interview on Thursday.