West News Wire: More than 700 soldiers from South Sudan, according to the military, will go to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to join a new regional force working to quell the most recent violent hostilities there.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang, the military’s spokesperson, told The Associated Press on Monday that the government is preparing to equip the 750 troops with what they need for the combat operation.
The United Nations reaffirmed its arms embargo on South Sudan earlier this year due to the country’s delayed implementation of a 2018 peace agreement that ended a five-year civil conflict and ongoing deadly violence. According to regional officials and the UN, thousands of people are still dying every year.
The South Sudanese military spokesman did not say how soon the troops will be sent to eastern Congo. “The forces are still under training, and they are still at the preparatory level,” he said.
Earlier this year, leaders of the seven-nation East African Community resolved to create and deploy a regional force to eastern DRC, where dozens of armed groups are active.
Diplomatic tensions have been rising as Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of providing the armed group M23 with support, something that UN and United States officials have also pointed to in recent months.
Kigali disputes the charge and accuses Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR, a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the genocide of the Tutsi community in 1994 in Rwanda.
Kenya has a leading role in the regional force and in the peace efforts. South Sudan’s military spokesman spoke to the AP after Kenyan President William Ruto visited South Sudan over the weekend.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir last week said his country will contribute to regional security despite having its own challenges at home.