In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where violent confrontations persist, the first troops from the sub-regional organization, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), began arriving at the end of December, shortly after the withdrawal of the East African Community (EAC) forces, urged out by Kinshasa. In the region, the local population is growing increasingly impatient.
Elements of the SADC troops did indeed arrive at the end of December, with South African soldiers landing at Goma airport on December 27, and others expected to join them. However, these forces have not yet been deployed to the field, where fierce battles continue to unfold in the Masisi territory between the M23 rebels and pro-government troops.
On Tuesday, January 16, two commanders of the M23 rebellion were killed in the eastern DRC, near Kitshanga, behind the front lines. The local population is becoming restless, as explained by Téléphore Vitombeke, representative of civil society in Masisi, speaking to our correspondent in Goma, Coralie Pierret.
“The DRC has already experienced several foreign military forces on our territory, including the EAC force, unfortunately yielding no results in favor of the Congolese people. Therefore, the Congolese population’s expectation regarding the SADC force is to witness the entire force aligning itself alongside the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), alongside other forces fighting against the aggression on our country.
The population anticipates the activation of the SADC force on the front lines to compel the enemy, render the enemy incapable of causing harm, and expel them from Congolese territory. That is the population’s expectation. We no longer want to see a force arriving with an observational character. That would be armed tourism.”