Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday announced that troops from the country would be deployed to the conflict-torn eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ruto said the soldiers would serve as part of a regional force that includes soldiers from Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan on a mission that was "necessary and urgent."
Armed M23 insurgents in the east of DRC have stepped up attacks, reigniting long-standing regional tensions — particularly between DRC and Rwanda. That prompted leaders of the East African Community (EAC) to agree in April to establish a joint force to help restore regional security.
What did the Kenyan president say?
"As neighbors, the destiny of DRC is intertwined with ours," Ruto said. "We will not allow any armed groups, criminals, and terrorists to deny us our shared prosperity."
"Its security is an obligation that we commit our best effort to achieve," he added.
The joint force will come under Kenyan command, with the country supplying some 900 troops.
Ruto said he and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi had agreed on how Kenyan soldiers would work with the Congolese army and other forces on disarming rebels and peacekeeping.
A Rwandan contingent is also set to be deployed along its side of the border, because of DRC's objection to Kigali's participation in any operations within its territory.
What's been happening in eastern DRC?
The March 23 Movement, widely known as M23, has recently tightened its grip on several territories by seizing the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru , cutting North Kivu's capital Goma off from the upper half of the province.
DRC accuses neighboring Rwanda of supporting M23 — an accusation that authorities in Kigali have denied.
The African Union (AU) on Sunday called for a ceasefire in the DRC and expressed "extreme concern at the deteriorating security situation" in the country.
M23's advances this weekend represent a doubling of the territory under its control. Founded in 2012, M23 is a mostly Congolese Tutsi-led insurgency group. It rose to prominence that year when it captured Goma, the largest city in the east of the DRC. A joint Congolese-UN offensive was eventually able to drive the group out.
After a peace deal, many M23 fighters were integrated into the DRC'S national military, but the group reemerged last November, saying the government had failed to live up to its promises.
Angry crowds on Tuesday set fire to United Nations vehicles in Goma as frustrations mounted over the advance of the M23 rebels and the deteriorating security situation.
rc/es (AFP, AP, dpa)