East African Community Extends Troop Mandate in DR Congo Until September
© Kenya's Ministry of DefenseKenyan troops deployed in eastern DRC under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF)
© Kenya's Ministry of Defense
In the wake of deteriorating security in eastern DR Congo where the rebel group M23 began an uprising against the government, member countries of the East African Community (EAC) set up a regional force with a mandate to secure peace and stability in the country last summer.
East Africa's leaders have agreed to prolong the mandate of a regional military force deployed to quell violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo until September.
The decision was made at the East African Community summit in Burundi by the leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.
"The summit reiterated its call to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to use established regional, continental, international mechanisms to resolve any disputes in the implementation of peace in eastern DRC," the EAC statement read.
In the statement, the EAC also pointed to its "tremendous progress in its efforts to restore peace and stability in the Eastern DRC."
The summit also reaffirmed that the security situation in eastern DR Congo "can only be sustainably resolved through a political process and dialogue among all the parties."
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, who called on regional forces to be more aggressive and decisive in the fight against the M23 rebels, initially agreed to extend the force’s stay until June after its mandate expired in March.
In early May, the South African Development Community (SADC) approved the deployment of its troops in the eastern DRC, in order to "restore peace and security."
Troops from three SADC countries — South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi — have already been operating in the eastern DRC since 2013 under the umbrella of a major UN peacekeeping force, MONUSCO.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, ongoing attacks by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to cause forced displacement and extreme hardship for millions of Congolese. The agency warned that the country has 6.2 million internally displaced people, while more than 1.3 million have become refugees.