DR Congo Mandate Ends: East African Community Regional Force Starts Withdrawal

EAST AFRICA –The East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) has today morning began its withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an AFP team observed, after Kinshasa did not renew its mandate.

A first group of around 100 Kenyan soldiers from the force — which also includes Ugandan, Burundian and South Sudanese soldiers — left the region shortly after 5 am from Goma Airport bound for Nairobi, according to an EACRF spokesman on the ground who did not provide more detail on further withdrawals.

The East African Community (EAC) first deployed troops in the violence-plagued region in November last year after the resurgence of the M23 rebel group.

At the time, the Congolese authorities invited the EAC to deploy its forces to free the areas conquered by the rebels who are accused of murdering thousands of Congolese citizens and displacing millions.But the future of the deployment was thrown into doubt after DR Congo President, Felix Tshisekedi, accused the force of cohabiting with the rebels rather than forcing them to lay down arms.

Following an EAC summit on November 25, the East African Community announced that the DRC would not renew the mandate of the regional force beyond December 8, 2023.