SA to deploy 2 900 troops to eastern Congo

South Africa will deploy 2 900 troops to help fight armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a Southern African Development Community initiative.

The cost of the yearlong deployment will be just over R2 billion, the South African Presidency said in a statement on Monday.

The deployment of troops from SADC comes as United Nations peacekeepers, which included South African soldiers, prepare to withdraw from the troubled region and an East African force exits after tensions with Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi.


“The obligation to contribute troops is borne by all SADC member states,” the presidency said. SADC is a 16-member group of countries including Congo.

The presidency didn’t say how the deployment, which will be in place until December 15, will be funded but said it won’t affect the usual operations of the South African National Defence Force.

Tanzania and Malawi are also contributing soldiers to the force, known as SAMIDRC.

SADC troops began arriving in December and are already involved in operations against the M23 rebel group, Congo has said.

Congo says M23, which is led mainly by Congolese members of the Tutsi group, is supported by neighbouring Rwanda. United Nations experts say members of the Rwandan Defence Force also provide support to the group in Congo. Rwanda denies backing the group.

M23 says it’s protecting Tutsis from discrimination in Congo and fighting Rwandan rebels in the country who have links to the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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