DRC Asks Rwandan Army Officials on EAC Regional Force to Vacate

The Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC has asked Rwandan army officials deployed under the East African States (EAC) regional force in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu to vacate immediately.

In his January 13, 2022, issued Tuesday morning, Major General Sylvain Ekenge Bomusa Efomi, the national spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), says that the decision is based on security reasons.  

DR Congo has requested the Commander of the Regional Force of the States of East Africa to make sure that Rwandan military officers are repatriated to their country. DRC had earlier rejected the deployment of the Rwandan Defense Forces under the East African Regional Force in the eastern part of the country to end insecurity. 

It is still unclear how RDF soldiers crossed into DRC without the knowledge of the host country. DRC has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23, a charge Rwanda strongly denies. On January 24, 2023, RDF soldiers shot at the DR Congo fighter jet on accusations of violating its airspace, a claim DRC denied.

DRC claimed that the RDF Navy force attacked the FARDC Navy force on Saturday evening January 28, 2023, on Lake Kivu specifically at Ibindja Island in Kivumo village, Kalehe territory, South Kivu province. DRC said that they successfully repelled the attack.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting between M23 rebels and FARDC soldiers and its militia coalition is ongoing since Tuesday morning in Kilorirwe, Burungu, Kishishe, and Kitshanga in Masisi territory, both Lawrence Kanyuka, M23 political spokesperson, and locals in the area have confirmed.  FARDC is using heavy, light weapons and aircraft to shell the positions of M23 in the area. 

“The fighting has been raging since 6 a.m. this Tuesday 31-01-2023. The Government coalition was bombarded with heavy artillery, all M23 positions in KILORIRWE, BURUNGU, KISHISHE, KITCHANGA, and their surroundings, as well as heavily populated areas. The M23 defends itself,” Kanyuka said in a statement.      

FARDC has not released a statement about the latest fighting. But last week, President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo assured the country that the army will chase M23 from Kitshanga. Kenyan soldiers in North Kivu under the EAC regional force are yet to start fighting in favor of dialogue. 

Diplomatic exchanges are also at a standstill. The last meeting scheduled for mid-January 2022 Doha (Qarar) between the Rwandan and Congolese authorities did not take place after DR Congo authorities failed to turn up at the last hour.                

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