Uganda to Deploy 1,000 Troops to DR Congo to Fight M23 Rebels

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UPDF Forces

Uganda is to deploy about one thousand soldiers in the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to fight the M23 Rebels who are holding the Northern Kivu Belt. This follows the regional enforcement mandate that was agreed on by the East African community leaders.

The development has been confirmed by the UPDF spokesperson on Tuesday who said that Uganda will send its force by the end of November.

The eastern region of DR Congo has witnessed fierce fighting in recent months between Congolese troops and the M23 rebel group, prompting the East African Community (EAC) bloc to deploy a joint regional force to quell the violence.

Kenyan president confirmed the sending of the countries soldiers to join the rest of the regional troops. By November 12 Kenyan troops arrived in the region. According to Uganda People’s Defense spokesman, Felix Kulayigye, the Ugandan troops will follow shortly and a force of about 1000 soldiers is on standby to join the rest of East African Community Forces.

“We are doing final mentoring of our troops before sending them into Eastern DR Congo before (the) end of this month to join our colleagues from Kenya who are already on the ground,” Kulayigye said.

“We are sending about 1,000 (soldiers) on the mission,” he said, without giving the exact date of departure.

The fighting has reignited regional tensions, between the DR Congo who is accusing its smaller neighbor Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, something that UN experts and US officials have also said in recent months.

The Kinshasa governments has continued accusing the Kigali government over supporting the M23 rebels, which Rwanda has denied overtime.

The M23 IS a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the 1994 genocide of mainly Tutsis in Rwanda.

The M23, a largely Congolese Tutsi militia, has seized swathes of territory across North Kivu province, edging towards the region’s main city of Goma.

The M23 first leapt to prominence 10 years ago when it captured Goma in 2012, before being driven out and going to ground.

But it re-emerged late last year, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances.

The condition of anonymity that Kampala had already sent intelligence, medical and logistical teams into Goma to prepare the ground for the planned deployment.

The M23 is one of around 120 armed groups active in eastern Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared late last century.

The EAC regional troops will include soldiers from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. But its intended total size remains unclear.

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