East African Regional Force has what it takes to stabilise DR Congo

KDF soldier

A KDF soldier wearing an East Africa Community Regional Force-DRC's patch in Goma, DRC on November 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Mary Wambui

What you need to know:

  • The United Nations was formed after the Second World War to maintain International peace and security.
  • It is however clear that their involvement is only subject to what they can gain from a country.

Soon after Laurent Désiré Kabila overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, a rebellion against his government started in the Kivu regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His former allies turned against him and were backed by foreign powers to overthrow him. The Eastern regions of DRC became fully militia-led. This is what is known as the Second Congo War. 

In July 1999, the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was signed between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe to stop them from interfering with DRC. The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was formed by the Security Council to oversee the ceasefire and disarmament of the militia, release prisoners of war and manage communications with all parties to the Ceasefire Agreement. 

In 2001, Laurent Désiré Kabila was assassinated. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila, 10 days later. The internal conflicts were still on going. MONUC was still in Congo trying to carry out the mandates set by the Security Council. 

Peace keeping mission

The Security Council decided to rename MONUC to United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) as of July 01, 2010 to mark a new era in the obdurate conflicts. The militias were bold with the rapes, pillage and murders because they knew that MONUSCO could only respond using forceful violence in self-defense. This became one of the biggest weaknesses in the peace keeping mission. 

On March 28, 2013 the Security Council authorized the formation of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). Its mandate was to neutralize and disarm the militia. They could openly attack the militia groups on their turf. The troops were made of Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi. They succeeded in their initial missions but suffered setbacks. 

Like any other home grown gang, militias benefit from their proximity to civilians. They are able to hide in plain sight and use civilians as collateral when needed. This is one of the ways the militia used to discourage the advancement of FIB in DRC. This then led to the militia acting out every chance they got. This led to locals questioning the role of MONUSCO in DRC. 

At the same time, the UN continuous budgetary cuts and proposal to restructure FIB and its approach presents an opportunity for the East African Community (EAC). The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) is the state organization responsible for defending the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are currently teamed up with the EACRF in the DRC mission. There is high hope for success from all sides.

Wounded economic giant

The East African Regional Force (EACRF) made up of countries in the East African region could have the capacity to entirely replace MONUSCO. Given the right political and social support in the region, having a fully functional regional army is one step closer to achieving success as Africans. The general lack of trust in MONUSCO paves way for the EACRF to build trust with the locals.

The United Nations was formed after the Second World War to maintain International peace and security. It is however clear that their involvement is only subject to what they can gain from a country. The Rwandan Genocide is a simple and clear example of their selective participation in resolving security issues in Africa. Rwanda did not have any direct economic importance to the countries that call the shots in the UN so it was left to fend for itself. Congo is a wounded economic giant hence the persistent interest. 

Resource driven conflict will never end especially when ethnic conflict is used to add fuel to the fire. Our future as a continent entirely depends on us. While our ability to choose incorruptible leaders is questionable, it is not impossible. Till we get there though, let us morally support our troops from whichever part of the East African region we are in. 

The Force Commander for the East African Community Regional Force Major General Jeff Nyagah is a reputable officer with a proven track record. Kenyans who understand his contribution to the service are extremely proud of his achievements. 


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