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Kenya's president calls for regional force to deploy in DR Congo


President Uhuru Kenyatta says the East African Regional Force will deploy in three provinces in DR Congo to "enforce peace." The call comes amid a resurgence of the M23 rebel group.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday called for the rapid deployment of a regional force to stop unrest in three provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I call for the activation of the East African Regional Force under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC)," Kenyatta said in a statement. 

Regional force to deploy 'immediately'

Kenyatta said that the regional force "shall be deployed to the Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces immediately to stabilize the zone and enforce peace."

The Kenyan president said the operation would be done in support of the DR Congo security forces and in close coordination with the UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO.

It's unclear whether the Congolese government supports the intervention.

This latest development comes as the M23 rebel group resurfaced earlier this year after a 10-year lull, launching an offensive in North Kivu in eastern Congo.

M23 stoke tensions

Congo and Rwanda have had a fractious relationship since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Some of those accused of involvement in the killings of an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda have since set up militias in eastern Congo.

The government in Kinshasa blames Kigali for the resurgence of M23, which is led mainly by ethnic Tutsis. Rwanda denies the allegations.

Tensions have been heightened in the region since March, when M23 militias attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns.

The group seized swaths of territory in eastern Congo during an insurrection in 2012 and 2013 before its fighters were driven out by Congolese and United Nations forces. They have since returned from neighboring countries to stage attacks.

M23 resumed fighting earlier this year, accusing the Congolese government of having failed to respect a 2009 agreement under which their fighters were to be incorporated into the army.

kb/jcg (Reuters, AFP)

28:36 mins.
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