fsomeone Foreign soldiers living in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo generally fall into two categories, those who are thieves and those who are incompetent. Neighboring armies have been largely responsible for the theft since Rwanda and Uganda first invaded in 1996, regularly looting eastern Congo’s rich mineral resources. In contrast, the powerless man wears a blue helmet: United Nations The mission in Congo, one of the most expensive ever, has proven extremely ineffective at quelling the anarchy that has displaced five million people and impoverished more than 100 million.
When the East African Community (eac), a regional economic bloc announced plans to deploy an intervention force in June. Granted, Uganda and Burundi, two past aggressors, have a bad reputation, but both are contributing. But Kenya, not tainted by such filth, will lead the force. Here, finally, an honest broker has emerged who has enough diplomatic and economic clout to make a difference, and who genuinely believes that stability will make the region richer. Even better, this force shoulders the powerful mission of “containing, defeating and eradicating negative forces”. As eastern Congo faces its worst crisis in a decade, the timing of Kenya’s leadership could not be more opportune.
Pride is also on the rise across the region. Even South Sudan, a poor, war-torn country more accustomed to hosting peacekeepers than deploying its own, has put together a battalion. On Dec. 28, its president, Salva Kiir, waved his staff away with pride. “Don’t participate in the rape of women and girls,” he said. “Don’t take anything from shops and civilians.”
Alas, it didn’t take long for the mood to turn sour. On Jan. 18, police in the main eastern Congo city of Goma broke up a demonstration calling for condemnation of the Kenyan army’s inaction since arriving there two months ago.Granted, the protests were small—buteac Emotions are undoubtedly growing.
The nervousness of Goma’s one million residents is understandable. In November 2021, a powerful rebel group known as riceOn the 23rd, reemerged from hiding and began a bloody offensive.a leak United Nations According to reports, Rwanda has equipped it with cutting-edge weapons and fought alongside it at critical moments.
At a summit in Angola last November, regional powers demanded that the rebels withdraw from all territory they had captured since the offensive began.The Kenyan contingent was supposed to move in rice23 retreat. However, the rebels were bluffing. Instead of retreating, they expanded their operations. On 27 January, they captured the strategic town of Kitshanga, cutting off another major road artery into Goma, which is now in serious danger of being encircled. through it all, eac Force didn’t even fire a single shot.
Kenya has good reason to avoid contact with rice23. The deployment of regional troops was more about increasing diplomatic pressure on Rwanda than about engaging in fighting. A conflict with the rebels could be a conflict with Rwanda. Yet by raising expectations and doing nothing, Kenya is wasting goodwill and fueling insurgents who seem to have little to lose in continuing their offensive. ■