Kenya’s foreign ministry says it ‘strongly disassociates’ with a DRC opposition figure who forged an alliance with rebels in Nairobi.
Kenya has “strongly disassociated” itself from a Congolese opposition figure who forged an alliance with rebels in Nairobi, spurring a diplomatic row with Kinshasa.
The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said it would investigate the political-military alliance after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recalled its ambassador in protest.
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The so-called Congo River Alliance, launched on Friday, includes DRC politicians and groups such as the M23 rebels, who have seized territory in eastern DRC, and Corneille Nangaa, a former DRC election commission chief.
In response to the development, DRC on Saturday recalled its ambassadors to Kenya and Tanzania for consultations. The envoy to Tanzania was recalled because Tanzania hosts the headquarters of the East African Community bloc, to which DRC also belongs.
In a statement, Kenya’s foreign minister, Musalia Mudavadi, said Kenya was aware some DRC nationals had addressed the press in Kenya and made statements that were “inimical to the constitutional order of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”.
“Kenya strongly disassociates itself from any utterances or activities likely to injure the peace and security of the friendly nation of DRC and has commenced an investigation,” he said.
The probe, the minister said, would try “to determine the identities of the makers of the statement and the extent to which their utterances fall outside constitutionally protected speech”.
The new alliance, which Nangaa said aimed to string together various Congolese armed groups, militias, and social and political organisations, is an additional concern in a region where insecurity has persisted for decades, fuelled by ethnic rivalries and a tussle over resources.
The diplomatic row comes amid growing security tensions ahead of the December 20 presidential elections in the DRC, which has been engulfed in civil strife for decades.
After several years of dormancy, M23 rebels took up arms again in late 2021 and seized large parts of the eastern province of North Kivu. The conflict has displaced some seven million Congolese within their own country.
According to the Human Rights Watch, more than 1.5 million Congolese will be unable to vote in zones affected by the conflict and millions more internally displaced people will face the same challenge.
Nangaa, justifying the formation of the new alliance, said the state is too “weak” to ensure order in the impoverished and war-battered country, and that a new movement needs to fill the void.
DRC government’s spokesman Patrick Muyaya accused Nangaa of being “unpatriotic” and launching “subversive activities”.
The head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the DRC, Bintou Keita, said she was “extremely concerned” by the newly announced alliance.
“I call on all political actors to operate within the framework of the Constitution and to respect human rights and the rule of law,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.