DRC summons Kenyan ambassador over opposition alliance with rebels

AFP , Saturday 16 Dec 2023

Kinshasa has summoned the Kenyan ambassador in the Democratic Republic of Congo, media reported, after a Congolese opposition figure in Nairobi announced he was creating a political-military alliance with M23 rebels and other armed groups.

File photo: Members of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) deployed as part of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) ride in a vehicle in Goma, in eastern Congo, Nov. 16, 2022. AP


The move sparked an angry response from the Congolese government, where the political and security climate is extremely tense in the run-up to December 20 elections.

At a press conference on Friday evening, Communication Minister Patrick Muyaya told reporters that "there will obviously be diplomatic consequences," describing the announcement in Kinshasa as "unpatriotic behaviour".

"Kenya owes us an explanation", Muyaya added.

Corneille Nangaa, ex-head of Congo's electoral commission, made the announcement from a large hotel in Nairobi on Friday, standing alongside M23 "president" Bertrand Bisimwa.

Congolese media reported Saturday that the Kenyan ambassador to the DRC had been summoned by the foreign ministry after the announcement, who asked him to provide an explanation.

The magazine Jeune Afrique said that Kinshasa had also recalled its ambassadors to Nairobi for consultation, which was confirmed to AFP by Muyaya.

Nangaa, who was president of the electoral commission for the DRC's 2018 polls, called for "the union of all political, social and military forces" to "rebuild the state" and "restore peace" in the impoverished, conflict-torn central African nation.

He said at least nine armed groups, including the M23, had already joined him in his "Congo River Alliance" project for "national unity and stability".

After several years of dormancy, the M23 ("March 23 Movement") rebels took up arms again in late 2021 and seized vast swathes of the eastern province of North Kivu.

Western governments and the United Nations have said neighbouring Rwanda has supported the M23, allegations Kigali denies.

The rebels' actions caused more than a million people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

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