On Sunday, December 17th, Kenya’s government took a decisive step to distance itself from a Congolese opposition figure who recently formed an alliance with rebels in Nairobi, sparking diplomatic tension with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This move comes as the DRC faces escalating security tensions ahead of its presidential elections on December 20th.
The so-called Congo River Alliance, which includes DRC politicians and groups such as the M23 rebels, was launched in Nairobi, causing the DRC to recall its ambassadors to Kenya and Tanzania in protest. The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced an investigation into the alliance, emphasizing its commitment to peace and security in the DRC.
The M23 rebels, known for seizing territory in eastern DRC, have been a significant source of instability in the region. Their resurgence in late 2021 has exacerbated the conflict in North Kivu province, leading to the displacement of millions of Congolese. The formation of the Congo River Alliance, which aims to unite various Congolese armed groups, militias, and social and political organizations, adds another layer of complexity to the already volatile situation.
Corneille Nangaa, a former DRC election commission chief and a key figure in the alliance, justified its formation by stating that the DRC state is too weak to ensure order in the country. However, this move has been met with criticism from the DRC government, with spokesman Patrick Muyaya accusing Nangaa of launching “subversive activities.”
Kenya’s disassociation from the alliance reflects its stance on maintaining regional stability and respecting the sovereignty of neighboring countries. The Kenyan foreign minister, Musalia Mudavadi, stated that Kenya strongly disassociates itself from any activities likely to harm the peace and security of the DRC.
The diplomatic row underscores the fragile nature of regional politics in Africa, where alliances and conflicts often have cross-border implications. As the DRC approaches its presidential elections, the international community, including the United Nations peacekeeping mission, remains concerned about the potential for increased violence and instability.