Ruto says Kenya has no choice but to deploy KDF soldiers to DRC
President William Ruto on Saturday, September 24, 2022, maintained that the government will be deploying Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to ease conflict in the region.
DRC, fraught with armed clashes, political instability and human rights violations, has been mired in conflict for decades.
Speaking during an interview with Al Jazeera, Ruto opined that there was a need to stabilise the region since all countries across the East Africa Community (EAC) mutually depend on one another, refuting claims that he was subjecting Kenyan soldiers to a new war despite the aftermath of AMISOM in Somalia.
"The conflict in Somalia is a Kenyan conflict, by and large. The challenges in Eastern DRC are Kenyan challenges. Eastern DRC is served by Mombasa Port, 50% of all imports go through our country, we have a commercial relationship, we are neighbours.
"These are not responsibilities we can run away from…peace in DRC, peace in Somalia, equals to peace in Kenya," the head of state remarked.
The first-in-command additionally underscored that every country within the EAC had agreed to assist the United Nations (UN) end the conflict by adding soldiers to the 12,000 troops needed to battle the M23 rebels in DRC.
"It is our neighbourhood, we have no choice. We wish this could be done by someone else but if we don't get involved, it will get worse," Ruto stated.
He further refuted claims that sending the troops would impose negative repercussions to the country.
"The decision to have the East African Standby Force (EASF) was made in consultation with the UN so there wouldn't be any possibility of conflict. Kenya is contributing troops to UN Force in DRC but we are also contributing troops to the EASF," Ruto added.
Ruto also highlighted the ongoing claims that Rwanda was upfront on attacks against the DRC.
Ruto stated: "President Paul Kagame has been forthright that they have nothing to do with M23. There are others who think otherwise. Both Presidents Felix Tshisekedi and Kagame are committed to making sure we solve the problem as a region and that is why all our countries are contributing troops to stabilise that region."
Conflict in Congo
DRC which boasts of vast minerals and natural resources has witnessed one of the world's longest-running conflicts which have led to the displacement of 2.2 million as of 2018.
A statistic by the United Nations (UN) reveals that there are at least 122 armed rebel groups causing a high spate of insecurities in the region.
Among the key players in the conflict are CODECO which is a self-defence militia group. The group said to have operated since 2013 has been the cause of several deaths under unclear grievances.
Others are the Mai Mai which was launched in 1964, and the M23 which was formed in 2009 following a peace tract between the Congolese government and the Pro-Tutsi militia.
It is reported that the rebels form a base to launch attacks on immediate neighbours such as Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Rwanda and Uganda.
So far the security instability has led to massive displacement of Congolese citizens and loss of lives.