Kenya’s Parliament has approved the deployment of nearly 1,000 soldiers for a new regional force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) amid questions about the $37m cost for the first six months of the mission.
Local newspapers reported that the approval, which was given on Wednesday, came two days after Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale met the parliamentary defence committee.
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The committee report says the money will be spent on equipment, allowances, and operations for the more than 900 soldiers joining the East African Community Regional Force that will support Congolese forces against armed groups.
Opposition lawmakers questioned why Kenya is spending so much money on the regional mission while the country faces its own security issues.
Kenya also faces rising inflation and high public debt that President William Ruto inherited from his successor Uhuru Kenyatta.
Last week, Ruto called the mission “necessary and urgent” for regional security. Violence by armed groups in the eastern part has led to a diplomatic crisis between DRC and neighbouring Rwanda, which accuse each other of backing certain groups.
The Kenyan forces will be based in Goma, the largest city in the eastern DRC. The regional force, agreed upon by heads of state in June and led by a Kenyan commander, also has two battalions from Uganda, two from Burundi, and one from South Sudan.
There is a possibility that international financing may be secured for the mission, the committee report said.