The Democratic Republic of Congo’s membership in the East African Community (EAC) hangs in the balance following the nation’s decision to recall its envoys from Kenya and Tanzania, raising concerns about the unity of the regional bloc.

The move comes in the wake of a controversial event in Nairobi where a new Congolese military alliance that brings together Congolese rebels, was unveiled in Kenya, bringing to three the countries that DRC has severed ties with, the latest being Rwanda.

On Saturday, the DRC officially announced the recall of its envoys for consultation, citing the launch of the Congo River Alliance in the Kenyan capital.

This alliance, led by Congolese politicians and groups, including the M23 rebels notorious for seizing territory in eastern Congo, and Corneille Nangaa, a former Congo election commission chief, has sparked diplomatic tensions within the EAC.

Mr Nangaa, previously sanctioned by the US for corruption and obstructing the 2018 election, declared that the Congo River Alliance aimed to unite various Congolese armed groups, militias, and social and political organisations.

The recall of the envoy to Tanzania is significant as the country hosts the headquarters of the East African Community in Arusha. DRC had joined the EAC just last year, becoming its seventh member and contributing to the regional efforts to foster trade and cooperation.

Kenya’s envoy to Kinshasa was summoned by the DRC on Saturday to explain the situation. However, the Kenyan government firmly denied any involvement in the alleged formation of a rebel faction in Nairobi.

Nairobi highlighted that it was not aware of such developments and underscored its commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of the DRC.

In an official statement, the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of Kenya addressed the press reports, stating, “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.”

This latest diplomatic upheaval comes at a sensitive time, coinciding with the completion of the East African Community Regional Force’s (EACRF) withdrawal from the DRC after a year-long peacekeeping mission, further complicating the dynamics within the regional body.

The repercussions of these developments remain uncertain, casting a shadow over the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s participation in the East African Community.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org