The Democratic Republic of the Congo has acquired military equipment from Turkey, indicating Ankara’s intention to strengthen ties with Kinshasa just under three months after the country was allowed to purchase arms on the global market.
Ankara’s donation arrived in Goma, the largest city in North Kivu province, which is currently engulfed in conflict, pitting the Congolese army, FARDC, and M23 rebels. Hundreds of different rebel organizations operate in the region, launching attacks both inside and outside of the DRC, making the conflict a regional issue.
Turkey’s pledge comes less than a month after the UN eased sanctions on the FARDC, which obliged supplier countries to consult the UN’s sanctions committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo before transferring guns to the DRC. The notification procedure for transferring weaponry to Congo expired on Tuesday, December 20, and Turkey did not even inform the public about the nature of its arms.
African countries in the UN Security Council felt that this requirement was a strategic crack in FARDC’s armor in terms of securing its territory because it allowed attackers to learn about DRC’s weaponry.
Lieutenant-General Constant Ndima, Military Governor of North Kivu, who accepted the equipment on behalf of President Félix Tshisekedi, stated that the Turkish donation “will bolster Congolese army forces on the frontlines” against multiple armed groups and the M23.
Ankara has been strengthening ties with a number of African countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It expanded its diplomatic representation from 19 in 2010 to 44 at the end of last year.
According to a Turkish government bulletin, the official Turkish policy for Sub-Saharan Africa focuses on trade, investment, cultural projects, security and military cooperation, and development projects.
“The DRC places a high value on this partnership, which will undoubtedly bear fruit in the future for the benefit of the Congolese and Turkish brother peoples,” said Lieutenant-General Ndima.