The conflict in the Eastern DRC is set to grow significantly larger as the Southern African Development Community announced Monday after a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, that they will be deploying troops to the Eastern DRC in order to join the fight against the M23 rebel group, which is one of the most prominent of the 100+ groups that operate within the region.
While no force size or deployment timeline was established at the meeting, they stated that they will be making efforts to coordinate with the pre-existing deployments that are already there. While there is, of course, MONUSCO (the UN’s mission in the DRC), the East African Community a number of months ago also deployed troops to the region. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has been criticizing the EACRF (East African Community Regional Force) for holding a largely peacekeeping role, rather than directly engaging with the M23.
Conflict in the region is nothing new, and the amount of international players is continually growing larger. The DRC is to hold elections in December, so President Tshisekedi and the SADC hope “to restore peace and security in Eastern DRC” before then, an ambitious goal considering the length and depth of the conflict.
South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi, three of the countries agreeing to deployments through the SADC, already have troops deployed in the DRC through MONUSCO. MONUSCO has also faced widespread criticism, and even large protests from the civilian populace, to what many see as a failure in their 30 years of deployment to do anything meaningful about the conflict. The SADC deployment will have a different mandate than MONUSCO, one that is hopefully more effective.
The full communique from the SADC on the summit held may be read at the link below below: