(Bloomberg) — An East African community military force launched a peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the bloc’s first deployment to a member state as it looks to prevent unrest in the country from turning into war .
Kenya’s President William Ruto, who is leading the mission, on Wednesday flagged off hundreds of soldiers as they headed for the mineral-rich eastern Congo region.
“This deployment is important and urgent as it responds to collective aspirations for lasting peace in our region,” he said in a statement. “Until the work is done, we perform our fraternal duty to the DRC.”
The mission will test the capability of the seven-member EAC to solve a complex political and security challenge. The conflict has raged in eastern Congo since the 1990s, when violence after the Rwandan genocide spread across the border, and rising tensions raised the risk of renewed fighting between neighboring states. More than 100 armed groups are active in the region, which is rich in gold, timber and other natural resources.
READ: African Union urges ceasefire in Congo fight with rebels
Kofi Sawyer, a senior research advisor at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, said in a note, “The EAC peace process highlights the bloc’s conflict resolution capability.” “Success will depend on solving difficult political, security and economic challenges in the eastern DRC, which probably won’t happen anytime soon.”
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