Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 27- Third batch of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) personnel have been deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the Congolese army and allied forces step up its fight against the M23 rebels.
The third group was commissioned Saturday by the Deputy Commander, Kenya Army Major General Peter Muteti at Embakasi Garrison, Nairobi.
The contingent shall join their counterparts who left the country two weeks ago under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF).
Speaking during the event, Maj Gen Muteti said the first batch is making big strides in bringing peace in the Eastern part of DRC and implored the soldiers to be good ambassadors of the KDF as has been the custom in all its previous missions.
“KDF is a professional, credible, mission-capable Force and we are proud of our brand. When we say you’re an arrowhead, we mean it since we believe in you. Let our motto of mission readiness be alive,” said the Deputy Army Commander.
He called upon the soldiers to abide by the law and protect humanity even as they endeavor to bring lasting peace in DRC and ultimately in the region and even internationally.
He relayed his message of goodwill to the soldiers during their tour of duty and exuded confidence that the Kenyan troops shall return to the country victorious having neutralized the threat.
More than two weeks ago, the National Assembly approved the deployment of 903 KDF troops being sent to the troubled DRC on a Sh4.4 billion taxpayers’ budget for a six-month period.
The approval followed recommendation made by the house Defence and Foreign relation committee chaired by Belgut MP Nelson Koech.
Koech stated that the bilateral relations between Kenya and DRC has pushed the nation to deploy security consignment due to vested business interest.
“The KDF forces and Kenya Army are anticipating in an event that they spill over for a period of one year which will cost Sh5.5 billion to Sh6 billion. Its however envisaged that international financing may be secured and the CS Defense will appraise the house accordingly,” he said on November 9.
Vice Chair of the Committee Abdullah Bashir defended the Sh4.4 budget being bankrolled by the taxpayers explaining that peace initiatives are costly regionally and that already they have received a commitment on international funding.
“To ensure that our troops are comfortable in terms of their own safety, its call upon the government to ensure that our troops are well equipped and that’s why we have additional funding which go to the issue of equipment,” said Bashir.
Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa supported the motion saying that despite Kenya not having a shared border with the DRC. Kenyans have invested a lot in the troubled nation and there is a greater need to secure their investment.
“It’s in the interest of our region and as the big brother we have the responsibility to ensure that we pacify our region and that the region is secure so that Kenyans can be able to transact business,” said Ichung’wa.
Armed groups in eastern DRC have stepped up attacks, reviving ancient animosities and unleashing a surge in tension with neighboring Rwanda.
Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) agreed in April to establish a joint force to help restore security in the region.
Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is leading the mediation talks between the M23 rebels who have been waging a major offensive in eastern DRC since 2012, and President Felix Tshisekedi’s administration.