The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Peter Mathuki, on Tuesday, June 6, received the commander of the bloc’s regional force deployed to eastern DR Congo, Maj Gen Alphaxard Kiugu, at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Mathuki and Kiugu discussed the status of the ongoing effort toward restoration of peace and security in eastern DR Congo, the EAC secretariat said.
The EAC SG @pmathuki today received @eacrf_DRC Force Commander,Major General Alphaxard Muthuri Kiugu at the EAC Headquarters, Arusha Tanzania Dr. Mathuki & his guest discussed the status of ongoing restoration of peace and security in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo pic.twitter.com/1JHB4S6bnQ— East African Community (@jumuiya) June 6, 2023
The East African Community regional force (EACRF) was deployed to eastern DR Congo in November 2022 with a mandate of facilitating regional peace efforts, including overseeing the withdrawal of M23 rebels and armed militia groups.
With troops from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan, EACRF already occupies M23’s vacated positions in North Kivu province.
The regional force has faced criticism from the Congolese government, which wants it to engage the M23 militarily, although the force was primarily tasked to support the political processes.
The summit of EAC leaders held in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 31 extended the mandate of the regional force until September and was given more assignments in order to consolidate the gains made.
Kiugu assumed his duties as EACRF commander, on May 18, after taking over from Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah, who stepped down and was subsequently reassigned to other command duties in Kenya.
Eastern DR Congo is home to more than 130 foreign and local armed groups, which are responsible for numerous atrocities. The region has remained volatile for nearly three decades.