Tanzania People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) on Friday refuted media reports that its soldiers were at war with the Congolese notorious rebels, M23, saying the troops are in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo on a peace mission as stated by UN regulations.
TPDF also refuted reports that it had captured four Rwandese commandos in Eastern Congo’s Kivu Province.
The TPDF issued the clarification for the second time in few months after sections of the media reported that Tanzanian soldiers were currently engaged in a war with M23 rebels.
Briefing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, TPDF spokesperson Major Erick Komba said Tanzanian soldiers who are currently in the DRC were part of a SADC Intervention brigade deployed and operating under the command of the UN peace keeping mission known in its acronym as MONUSCO.
Following the September 2012 International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in which African Union and United Nations decided to immediately establish a 3000-strong neutral international force in an effort to bring stability to the region, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2098 in March, this year, authorizing an Intervention Brigade and extending the mission’s mandate until March 31, 2014.
TPDF spokesperson clarified that Tanzanian troops were not operating in Congo as an independent force, but was working under the UN peace keeping force.
But, the TPDF soldiers who form the 3000-Intervention Brigade have been given the mandate to attack the enemy in a bid to boost security in Kivu province.
Other mandates include preventing rebel groups from attacking civilians, and disarming rebels in both North and South Kivu Provinces.
“Our forces are under the UN peace keeping mission group whose military operation has been assigned by the United Nations” he s aid adding that, Tanzania is not fighting with the M23 rebel group.
He further noted that Tanzania does not have a problem with the Rwandan government in relation to the operation and the country’s commitment to send its forces to DRC as this idea was also supported by Rwandan government which is also a member of the great lakes region.
He also said that Rwanda had greatly helped Tanzania to pass through its forces, people and some military weapons in their country on the way to Goma in DRC.
He said the deployment of Tanzania forces was a result of request by heads of states of member countries of the Great Lakes region who met in Kampala in August, 2012 and deliberated on various strategies on how they could form a Neutral Intervention Force (NIF).
He further added that after the formation, the member countries were asked to contribute their soldiers whereupon in response to this call, Tanzania promised to provide troops in order to form 3000-soldier Intervention Brigade.