NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 — Tanzania has defended its participation under a SADC Mission in Eastern DRC saying it aligns with regional peace efforts under the Nairobi and Luanda process.
Tanzania’s Foreign Office issued the clarification on Friday amid accusations of targeted bombardments against civilian populations and possible targeting of ethnic Tutsis in the battle against M23 rebels.
“Tanzania aligns itself with both Luanda and Nairobi processes, regional political mechanisms for peaceful resolution of the Eastern DRC conflict,” he said.
Foreign Minister January Makamba said the goal of Tanzanian forces operating under the umbrella of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) aligned to the SADC Mutual Defence Pact.
Makamba refuted assertions that Tanzania was operating in the DRC independently, outside of the unified operational command of the mission.
He explained that several SADC countries are contributing troops and finances for the Mission.
Dodoma’s clarification comes a few days following a surge in violence prompting thousands to flee Eastern DRC amid intensified clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group.
Reports indicate M23 fighters had encircled the strategic town of Sake, signaling potential advancements towards Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
M23 described the renewed clashes as part of its “defensive maneuvers”.
A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that over 135,000 violence-displaced people in Masisi moved to the city of Goma.
On 7 February, clashes intensified in the highlands of Sake, Masisi territory, located some 25 km from Goma with heavy weapon fire reported.
According to OCHA, the crisis in North Kivu province has extended to South Kivu, with over 60,000 displaced individuals arriving from Masisi since February, 2.
SADC Heads of State and Government okayed the deployment of SAMIDRC at an Extraordinary Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, on May 8, 2023.
SADC States deployed SAMIDRC on December 15, 2023, after the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) formally ended its mission to DRC with the last batch of the multinational security force leaving on December 21.
EACRF comprised of troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.
The SADC Regional Force comprises personell from from Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania working with the Congolese Army to fight M23.
SADC’s 2003 Mutual Defence Pact provides for collective self-defence and collective action.
The Pact holds that: “Any armed attack perpetrated against one of the States Parties shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and shall be met with immediate collective action.”
The Force Commander for the SAMIDRC is Major General Monwabisi Dyakopu of South Africa.