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Kenya responds over diplomatic row with DRC Congo after the latter recalled ambassador

Kenya distances self from DRC Congo Rebel Opposition Alliance launched in Nairobi, a move that saw recall of ambassandor.

On Sunday, Musalia Mudavadi, the cabinet secretary for foreign affairs, dissociated his ministry from a coalition of rebel groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that had been unveiled in Nairobi.

The CS stated in a statement that neither Kenya nor the government of President William Ruto sponsored the press conference that allowed the reports to be published.

“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 investigation to determine the identities of the makers of the statement and the extent to which their utterances fall outside constitutionally protected speech,” read the statement in part.

“Kenya further affirms its non-involvement in the internal affairs of DRC and commits to continue supporting the peace, security, and democratic consolidation of the country.”

The Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Ministry under Musalia Mudavadi said on Sunday, December 17, that by virtue of the presser by the group being held in Kenya’s capital, concerned quarters might mistake the Kenyan government for supporting the group’s undertakings.

“The Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Kenya refers to press reports that some nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo claiming association with rebel groups within DRC addressed a press conference in Nairobi,” partly read a communique from Mudavadi’s office.

The Ministry clarified that the individuals leveraged Kenya’s freedom of expression and association with the press.

“The Ministry wishes to note that Kenya is an open and democratic state where freedom of the press is vouchsafed. As such, nationals and non-nationals may engage the Kenyan media without reference to the government.

It however did not mean they had the blessing of the Kenyan government.

The statement comes days after DRC recalled its ambassador from Kenya after a new Congolese military alliance that includes rebels was launched in Nairobi.

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Corneille Nangaa, ex-head of Congo’s electoral commission, made the announcement from a large hotel in Nairobi on Friday, standing alongside M23 “president” Bertrand Bisimwa.

The withdrawal of the ambassador was announced by Congo’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Alain Tshibanda on Saturday, December 17, 2023.

DRC Congo government also summoned the Kenyan Ambassador to Congo a few hours before the withdrawal of their ambassadors.

At a press conference on Friday evening, Communication Minister Patrick Muyaya told reporters that “there will obviously be diplomatic consequences,” describing the announcement in Kinshasa as “unpatriotic behavior”.

“Kenya owes us an explanation”, Muyaya added.

Nangaa, who was president of the electoral commission for the DRC’s 2018 polls, called for “the union of all political, social and military forces” to “rebuild the state” and “restore peace” in the impoverished, conflict-torn central African nation.

He said at least nine armed groups, including the M23, had already joined him in his “Congo River Alliance” project for “national unity and stability”.

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