Last KDF contingent exits DRC ending EACRF Mission » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21 — The East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), that was deployed to the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to battle the M23 rebels, formally ended its mission to the central African state.

The last batch of the multinational security force left DRC soil Thursday, December 21, according to EACRF Commander Major General Alphaxard Kiugu.

Kiugu confirmed Thursday that all the Contingents under EACRF serving under the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) had exited the theatre of operation.

The final contingent to leave comprised of KDF soldiers.

Commenting on the successes of the troops that were drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and  South Sudan, Maj. Gen. Kiugu said the EACRF forces played a critical role in brokering of ceasefire between the M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo(FARDC) which he notes reduced loss of lives and allowed flow of relief to the victims.

“Albeit fragile, the ceasefire lasted from March 7, to October 6, 2023, when it was breached following the resumption of hostilities between the M23 and FARDC,” he said in his last briefing at EACRF headquarters.

He added that EACRF also played a critical role in fostering harmonious coexistence between communities.

“This was undertaken through key leadership engagement vision in that building public confidence and trust, as well as fostering an atmosphere of understanding which eventually led to cohesive society structures and restoration of normalcy.”

Stabilization mission

The troops exit DRC at a time when the second largest country in Africa is undertaking national elections.

He noted that the Eastern DRC remains a focal area of concern with the ongoing conflict directly impacting local and regional, social, political and economic well-being. 

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Despite the successes, Maj. Gen. Kiugu pointed out there remains a number of sticking points that requires intervention.

He expressed concern over the posturing of various armed groups in areas vacated by EACRF and the return of M23 in the initially vacated locations.

The EACRF Commander singled out the proliferation of armed groups exploiting existing gaps and and negative propaganda against the regional force as some of the main challenges to the stability of DRC.

He further noted that the slow progress of the disarmament, demobilization, community recovery, and stabilization program is a huge challenge.

The Kenya’s troops were the first to be deployed to DRC in November 2022 following authorization by the EAC Heads of State. Burundi troops followed in March 2023.

Uganda and South Sudan both deployed on April 2, 2023.

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