DRC orders Rwanda to withdraw troops immediately
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has ordered Rwandan troops deployed under the East African States (EAC) regional force in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu to vacate their country immediately.
In a notice issued today Tuesday morning, Maj Gen 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.
DRC has requested the commander of the regional force ensure that Rwandan military officers are repatriated to their country. DRC had earlier rejected the deployment of the Rwandan army under the East African regional force in the eastern part of the country to end insecurity.
It is still unclear how Rwandan soldiers crossed into DRC without the knowledge of the host country. DRC has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, a charge Rwanda strongly denies. On January 24, 2023, Rwandan soldiers shot at a Congolese fighter jet on accusations of violating its airspace, a claim DRC denied.
DRC claimed that the RDF Navy force attacked the FARDC Navy force last Saturday evening January 28 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 continued through Tuesday morning in Kilorirwe, Burungu, Kishishe, and Kitshanga in Masisi territory. 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.
Last week, DRC 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, instead opting for dialogue first.
However, diplomatic exchanges are also at a standstill. The last meeting scheduled for mid-January 2022 in Doha, Qatar between the Rwandan and Congolese authorities did not take place after Congolese authorities failed to turn up at the last hour.