East African Troops Reportedly Begin Leaving DR Congo as Mandate Expires
16:35 03.12.2023 (Updated: 17:17 03.12.2023)
In late November, the East African Community (EAC) announced that DRC government had decided not to renew the mandate of the regional force, which was deployed in the east of the country in November 2022 in response to the deteriorating security situation amid a widespread insurgency.
Troops from the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) began leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, French media reported, as the mission's mandate expires on December 8.
The first group of about 100 Kenyan troops left the country from Goma airport en route to Nairobi, EACRF spokesman told the media.
The mandate of the regional peacekeeping force was extended for a three-month period in September, following a series of previous extensions.
In early October, however, DR Congo's Minister of Information, Patrick Muyaya, said the EACRF "has not been able to solve the problem" and called on the peacekeepers to leave the country at the end of their mandate.
The DRC's decision not to renew the mission was announced by the EAC last week. The participating countries directed the chiefs of defense of the EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to meet before the end of the mandate "to submit their recommendations on the way forward to the defense ministers for onward transmission to the summit for consideration."
However, SADC is reportedly expected to deploy a military contingent to eastern DRC in December.
11 October 2023, 12:41
Earlier, in August, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi called on the contingent to be more active in the fight against the rebels, citing "laxity" on the part of non-Burundian regional peacekeepers.
In addition to Burundi and Kenya, the EACRF includes soldiers from Uganda and South Sudan.
In addition to the EACRF, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will also be leaving the central African country. The UN mission has been present in the country since 1999, monitoring the implementation of ceasefire agreements and the disengagement of warring militias.
Security in the eastern part of the country has been a major concern for the DRC in recent years due to a widespread armed anti-government campaign by the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.
The M23 movement, which fought for the interests of the Tutsi ethnic minority, suffered a major military defeat in November 2013 and was disbanded. In November 2021, the rebels took up arms again, accusing the DRC authorities of violating agreements to integrate disarmed M23 rebels into the army.