South Sudan’s military said it is preparing to send a battalion of 750 soldiers to DR Congo under the East African regional force tasked to restore peace in the country’s restive east.

“The forces are still under training near Juba. The government is working to look for military equipment. But I can confirm that the forces have not yet been deployed to Congo,” Major General Lul Ruai Koang, Spokesman of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), told Radio Tamazuj in an interview on Friday.

Asked if the forces were selected from the unified forces created under the 2018 peace agreement, Lul said:” Those forces belong to SSPDF only; they were drawn from the various units of the SSPDF, Military Police, National Security and Engineering Corps.”

According to the military spokesperson, the government is still working on releasing funds for the troops who will be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The military officer did not, however, state the day the battalion of 750 soldiers would go to Congo.

Meanwhile, Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesperson in the Office of the Defense Minister, said earlier that the forces were still waiting for funds to be released by the government.

 “We are still at the preparatory level. The forces are undergoing rehearsal and confidence-building; there is preparation for their equipment so that they are ready to go,” Lam explained.

In August, the cabinet approved 6.69 million US dollars to deploy troops in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The South Sudanese forces to be sent to Congo will join over 900 Kenyan troops who arrived in Goma in mid-November. Uganda also said it would send 1,000 soldiers under the EAC force.

Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) resolved to send a joint force to deal with multiple armed groups in Congo after the country joined the bloc in April as the seventh member state.

The resurgence of the M23 rebel group in May this year prompted regional and international efforts to bring an end to the decades-long insecurity in eastern Congo.


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