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Congolese armed groups react to the deployment of regional force in Eastern DRC

Armed militiamen gather near Rutshuru, 70 kms (45 miles) north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo,Wednesday June 22, 2022   -  
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Moses Sawasawa/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. -

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A Congolese group composed of different armed movements has reacted to the East African Community's announcement to send a military force to end the violence in Eastern DRC. Seven countries in the region have agreed for the deployment of this special unit led by Kenya.

"We are facing another insurgency, another aggression from the M23. But in reality, it is not the M23 or the CNDP, but rather neighboring countries that are attacking us and countries that are known. These are mainly Uganda and Rwanda. And if we are here, despite the presence of the army, it is because this army has not been able to protect us during all this time.", says Jules Mulumba, spokesperson of the Collective of Resistance for the Defense of the People and representative of CMC-FDP.

Fighting has flared up in recent weeks between the DRC and the M23 rebels. And Kinshasa is accusing Kigali to support them. "If this force is coming to fight Rwanda, which is the real and the main aggressor, I think it will be welcome, but the format must be reviewed. It should exclude Rwanda from Uganda from this unit, it could include Tanzania or Burundi, and Kenya. But we must also be honest, there are already 17 000 UN men here they haven't been able to do anything for almost 20 years.", added Mulumba.

A statement after the leaders' meeting in Kenya's capital earlier this week didn't give details on the date of the force's deployment or its composition. But shortly after the regional meeting, Congo's presidency tweeted that the force should be operational in the coming weeks but should not include Rwandan troops.