DR Congo appoints new army chief as part of military reforms

DR Congo Military
DRC soldiers

DR Congo’s new army chief is expected to perform better.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has changed the chief of the country’s armed forces as part of larger military changes aimed at increasing efficiency.

Christian Tshiwewe Songhesha, a former commander of the Republican Guard, an elite force tasked with safeguarding the head of state, was chosen the next army chief of staff on Monday, succeeding Célestin Mbala Musense.

Jerome Chico Tshitambwe, the new deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, is from the same unit.

“Almost the entire staff has been replaced by young officers. Several are from the Republican Guard, but not all, and that’s because they have proven themselves,” the president’s deputy director of communications, Giscard Kusema, said.

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The army of the Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting several armed groups, mostly in the country’s restive east, where ethnic militias and other armed groups fight for control along the borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

The DRC’s unrest-prone east is home to at least 120 armed groups, according to a recent UN census, and neighboring countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi regularly launch military operations there.

According to Kusema, the wave of appointments in the DRC’s army is part of a larger framework of military reform. A new military programming law for the years 2022-2025 was recently drafted.

“For years, all the experts have been asking for a military programming law that gives more financial autonomy to the army and flexibility in procedures,” said Kusema.