South Sudan’s military says more than 700 personnel will travel to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join a new regional force in trying to calm the latest deadly clashes there.
The spokesman for South Sudan’s military, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, told The Associated Press on Monday that the government is working to provide the 750 troops with needed equipment for the combat mission.
The United Nations earlier this year renewed an arms embargo on South Sudan, citing continuing deadly violence as the country slowly implements a 2018 peace deal that ended a five-year civil war. Thousands of people are still being killed, according to local authorities and the UN.
The South Sudanese military spokesman did not say how soon the troops will be sent to eastern Congo. “The forces are still under training, and they are still at the preparatory level,” he said.
Earlier this year, leaders of the seven-nation East African Community resolved to create and deploy a regional force to eastern DRC, where dozens of armed groups are active.
Diplomatic tensions have been rising as Kinshasa accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of providing the armed group M23 with support, something that UN and United States officials have also pointed to in recent months.
Kigali disputes the charge and accuses Kinshasa of collusion with the FDLR, a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the genocide of the Tutsi community in 1994 in Rwanda.
Kenya has a leading role in the regional force and in the peace efforts. South Sudan’s military spokesman spoke to the AP after Kenyan President William Ruto visited South Sudan over the weekend.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir last week said his country will contribute to regional security despite having its own challenges at home.