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Kenya distances itself from DRC opposition leader’s press conference amid diplomatic tensions

By Nyaboga Kiage December 17th, 2023 2 min read

The government has distanced itself from a possible diplomatic fallout linked to a recent press conference in Nairobi by the opposition leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In response to the recent press conference held in Nairobi by Corneille Nangaa, the Kenyan government has issued a statement distancing itself.

The press conference, in which Mr Nangaa announced cooperation with rebel movements including the M23, has raised concerns and led to the recall of the DRC’s ambassador to Kenya.

The Prime Cabinet Secretary, who is also the CS for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Musalia Mudavadi, said in a signed statement that Kenya is a democratic nation and should not be associated with statements made by Mr Corneille Nangaa (DRC opposition leader).

He said: “Kenya is an open and democratic state where freedom of the press is guaranteed. As such, nationals and foreigners can engage with the Kenyan media without reference to the government”.

Mr Mudavadi noted that the Kenyan government was not linked to Mr Nangaa’s comments and expressed confusion as to why they were being linked.

He stressed that Kenya was investigating to identify the individuals responsible for the statements and to determine whether their remarks fell outside constitutionally protected speech.

“Kenya further reiterates its non-interference in the internal affairs of the DRC and remains committed to supporting peace, security and democratic consolidation in the country,” Mr Mudavadi added.

Also read: Revealed: Why DRC has recalled its ambassador to Kenya

This reaction comes shortly after the DRC recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Mr John Kalunga. The recall was prompted by Mr Nangaa’s statement during a press conference in Nairobi that he had set up a political-military wing.

The Kenyan ambassador to Tanzania was also recalled as Tanzania hosts the headquarters of the East African Community, of which Congo is a member.

The DRC opposition leader, Mr Nangaa, said his coalition of 17 political parties and armed groups wanted to “save” the DRC from its difficult situation.

He criticised the lack of serious leaders in the country, which he blamed for the persistent instability of the past 30 years. Mr Nangaa’s association with former DRC president Joseph Kabila is notable.

In a diplomatic gesture, he praised Kenya for its hospitality, acknowledged the country’s contribution of soldiers to the fight against insecurity in Congo, and thanked the Kenyan government for its goodwill.