DR Congo appoints new army chief as part of military reforms

The wave of appointments is part of a broader framework of military reforms, said a presidential spokesman.

DRC soldiers
DRC soldiers on patrol against the Allied Democratic Forces and National Army for the Liberation of Uganda rebels near Beni in North Kivu province, December 31, 2013 [Kenny Katombe/Reuters]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has replaced the head of the country’s armed forces as part of broader military reforms aimed at boosting efficiency.

In a statement from the presidency on Monday, Christian Tshiwewe Songhesha, former commander of the Republican Guard, an elite unit in charge of protecting the head of state, was named as the new army chief of staff, replacing Célestin Mbala Musense.

The new deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, Jerome Chico Tshitambwe, comes from the same unit.

“Almost the entire staff has been replaced by young officers. Several are from the Republican Guard, but not all, and that’s because they have proven themselves,” the president’s deputy director of communications, Giscard Kusema, said.

The DRC’s army is fighting multiple armed groups, mainly in its restive east where ethnic militias and other armed groups are battling for control near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

According to a recent count by the United Nations, there are at least 120 armed groups in the DRC’s restive east and military operations by neighbouring states like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are not uncommon.

The wave of appointments in DRC’s army is part of a broader framework of military reform, Kusema told Reuters. A new military programming law was recently drawn up for the period 2022-2025.

“For years, all the experts have been asking for a military programming law that gives more financial autonomy to the army and flexibility in procedures,” said Kusema.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies