KDF prepare for imminent attack as M23 rebels advance towards key city they are protecting

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 17 Nov, 2022 14:59 | 2 mins read
KDF prepare for imminent attack as M23 rebels advance towards key city they are protecting
The governor of the North-Kivu Province, General Constant Ndima, third from left, greets Kenyan army troops as they land at Goma airport, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 12, 2022. PHOTO/AFP.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers who are deployed in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are set to come face-to-face with M23 rebels who are advancing towards the city.

However, KDF troops in Goma remain upbeat they will defend the eastern DRC city from M23 rebels if they attack.

At a joint press briefing, KDF and Congolese forces vowed to protect Goma from possible attacks as M23 rebels advance towards the city.

"No one will take Goma. We are here to protect Goma airport,” Major General Jeff Nyagah, the Kenyan military officer who is now the Commander of the Regional Force, said.

Nyagah said KDF was ready to defend strategic installations and civilian areas from war, even as they said the priority was to seek peace through diplomacy.

"Sometimes war does not bring peace. You have to pursue diplomacy. It is only after diplomacy and disarmament have failed that military force will be used," he said.

Diplomacy

Regional efforts are under way to cool tensions and end the conflict unfolding in the eastern part of DRC.

One of the peace initiatives fronted by the East African Community and known as the Nairobi Process is being facilitated by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Uhuru, who has been in the DRC last week before peace negotiations with armed groups took place, said talks in Nairobi would be held before the end of the month.

“We have not come here with a prescription but rather with the idea of listening to our brothers and sisters and hope to be able to make a contribution towards bringing lasting peace,” Uhuru said late on Monday, November 14, 2022, after meeting various stakeholders.

Goma

Thousands of people have been displaced in the volatile eastern region of DRC as fighting between the country's military and M23 rebels moved close to the key city of Goma.

Clashes picked up again in North Kivu province on Friday, November 11, 2022, even as Uhuru was in Kinshasa pushing for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Al Jazeera reported that battles broke out around the villages of Kibumba, Rugari and Tongo, North-Kivu province.

Kibumba is about 20 kilometres north of Goma, where KDF troops are stationed.

M23 briefly overran Goma during their first big insurrection in 2012.

M23 rebels

The M23 was formed in 2012 claiming to defend the interests of Congolese Tutsis, a group sharing the ethnicity of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, against Hutu militias.

DRC has accused Rwanda of supporting M23 leading to a diplomatic tiff between the two countries.

Tens of thousands have fled the fresh fighting that has caused yet another diplomatic rift between the DRC and Rwanda. Kinshasa insists Kigali is backing the Tutsi-led group while Rwanda denies any involvement.

KDF mission

President William Ruto on September 24, 2022, maintained that the government would deploy KDF troops to the eastern part of the DRC to ease conflict in the region.

Chief of Defence Forces Robert Kibochi on November 12, 2022, flagged off the first batch of KDF soldiers who were deployed for the peace-keeping mission.

The second batch comprising 200 KDF soldiers left for DRC on November 16.

Kenya will deploy a total of 903 soldiers to DRC. Kenyan taxpayers will cough up Ksh4.4 billion to support the KDF troops deployed in the DRC on the peacekeeping mission for a six-month period.

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