SADC Deploys Troops in Eastern DRC, but Questions Remain

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has initiated the deployment of troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While this announcement is not new, as the commitment was made on May 8 during a summit in Namibia, it is now materializing with South African soldiers landing in Goma on December 27. However, despite the deployment, many questions linger.

The first question concerns the number of troops. South African soldiers have indeed landed at Goma airport on December 27, but the regional spokesperson for the Congolese army did not specify the exact number already on the ground. According to various sources, there may not be more than 200 soldiers in the North Kivu capital. These soldiers are expected to be joined by others, including contingents from Tanzania and Malawi, but the arrival date is yet to be specified.

According to an internal SADC document dated December 14, the mission has a 12-month mandate and aims to deploy the equivalent of a brigade, approximately 7,000 men, along with air, maritime, and artillery support.

The SADC troops are tasked with “supporting the DRC to neutralize armed groups in the East of the country,” according to the document, which does not specify which groups the SADC will act against. Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula mentioned that the mission will primarily focus on combating the M23 rebels who control part of the North Kivu province.

It’s worth noting that the East African Community (EAC) troops had a similar mandate, but they left eastern DRC, compelled to exit by Kinshasa. The last Kenyan contingent departed on December 21.

Soukaina Sghir

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