The Angolan parliament approved a year-long deployment of up to 500 soldiers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Friday, following the collapse of a ceasefire brokered in the country’s capital Luanda between M23 rebels and DRC government troops.
The military deployment was supported by all 178 Angolan lawmakers present in the country’s 220-member parliament.
Angola’s Minister of State and Military Head, General Francisco Furtado, told local radio on Wednesday that Luanda would send between 450 and 500 soldiers to the DRC for a year.
The deployment, first announced by the Angolan presidency on Saturday, would have the primary goal of securing areas where M23 rebels are stationed and protecting the team tasked with monitoring compliance with the DRC ceasefire.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco played a critical role in mediating the conflict’s resolution. However, the most recent ceasefire he negotiated collapsed last week on the day it was supposed to go into effect.
Luanda stated that the deployment decision was made after consultations with Kinshasa and that other regional leaders, as well as the UN, had been notified.
On Saturday, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is scheduled to arrive in Luanda.
“M23 rebels withdrew this week from several villages in Eastern DRC,” regional officials said on Thursday.
A recent lull in fighting occurred after the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group advanced closer to Goma, threatening to cut off road links to the city of over one million people on the Rwandan border.
The M23 is one of many armed groups operating in the volatile region.
In 2012, the Tutsi-led group briefly captured the provincial capital Goma before being driven out by a joint DRC-UN offensive.
Fighting flared up again in late 2021, however, after the M23 accused Kinshasa of breaking promises to integrate its fighters into the army. The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the group, which Kigali denies.