The Congolese army and the UN force in the DRC (Monusco) on Tuesday agreed on a framework for joint operations against the more than 100 armed groups that have been active in the east of the country for nearly three decades. The two parties signed an agreement in Kinshasa.
The agreement document, entitled “Guidelines for Joint Operations”, was signed at the Congolese army headquarters.
The commander of the Monusco force general Affonso Da Costa said the engagement of the blue will only take place alongside the Congolese army and will help in reinforcements, intelligence, logistics, protection of civilians in the vicinity.
Military officials further stated that Monusco peacekeepers would not participate in ongoing joint operations between the Congolese and the Ugandan army in eastern DRC though information sharing will be a priority.
The DRC last week gave its approval to a Ugandan offer to pursue the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a group blamed for massacres in eastern DRC on its soil, where it has holed up since the mid-1990s.
The DR Congo’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013 while a respected monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker, blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the area alone since 2017.
The Ugandan authorities have accused the ADF or a local group affiliated with it of carrying out or planning a string of attacks this year.
On November 16, four people were killed and 33 wounded in twin suicide bombings in Kampala. Police blamed the blast on a “domestic terror group” that it said was linked to the ADF.
Since April 2019, some ADF attacks in eastern DR Congo have been claimed by IS, which describes the group as its Islamic State Central Africa Province offshoot.
In March, the United States placed the ADF on its list of “terrorist” organizations linked to IS.
More than 120 armed groups roam the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared a quarter-century ago.
South Kivu, which lies on the border with Rwanda and Burundi, has been badly hit by their attacks.
Two other troubled provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, were placed under a “stage of siege” in early May — a decision that placed senior civilian posts under the control of the security forces in a bid to toughen action against armed groups.