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Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo Signs Agreement for SADC Troop Deployment

Cape Town — President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo signed an agreement in Kinshasa on November 17, 2023, that will allow for the deployment of Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops to the east of the country, for peacekeeping in the volatile region where civilians were terrorised by armed groups for decades.

The deployment by SADC was first agreed on at a summit in Namibia on May 7, 2023, after Southern African leaders expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation prevailing in the eastern DRC and reiterated their strong condemnation of the upsurge of conflicts and activities of armed groups, including the resurgence of M23 rebels.

According to the East African, Tshisekedi at a council of ministers meeting in Kinshasa on November 10, 2023, said that the southern African community resolved to commit troops alongside those of the DR Congo army to help “annihilate the enemies of our country”.

The president said the deployment was agreed upon in accordance with the principle of collective security advocated in the SADC Mutual Defence Pact, which stipulates in Article 6 paragraph 1 that: “Any armed attack perpetrated against one of the States Parties shall be considered as a threat to regional peace and security. In response to such an attack, immediate collective action shall be taken”.

There are also simmering tensions on the DR Congo and Rwanda border, after Tshisekedi accused Rwanda of supporting militia, wanting to destabilise his country. While the accusations have been denied by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a telephone conversation with Kagame on August 15, 2023, to discuss the situation.

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