EAC troops mandate in North Kivu extended to December

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EAC summit recommends Rumangabo
Maj. Willy Ngoma, M23 rebels’ military spokesperson welcoming Ugandan troops on Congolese soil of Bunagana earlier in the year

Nairobi, Kenya | THE INDEPENDENT | The mandate of the peacekeeping mission deployed under the East African Community Regional Force in the North Kivu Province of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been extended to December 2023.

Troops from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi were deployed in territories of Masisi, Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, North Kivu province in 2022 to occupy positions that had been conquered by the M23 Movement rebels after defeating the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC).

The troops were mandated to create a buffer zone to prevent further fighting between M23 rebels and FARDC soldiers. They, however, attracted heavy criticism from a section of DRC nationals, politicians and activists accusing them of not launching an assault against M23 rebels.

The troop’s mandate is slated to expire on September 8, 2023. However, during a 22nd extraordinary summit that sat on September 5, 2023, in Nairobi, it was resolved that the mandate be extended until December 8, 2023.

The summit was attended by Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs, Evariste Ndayishimye, Burundian President, South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr William Ruto of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and DR Congo’s Prime Minister Nichel Jean Sama Lukonde.

The summit also appreciated the USD 2 million contribution from the African Union Commission towards financing the troops under the East African Community regional force.

The deployment of the troops has registered a slight security improvement in the affected territories. Education resumed on Monday this week in Rutshuru, Masisi and Nyiragongo territories. But sometimes clashes between M23 rebels and militia coalition under their umbrella Wazalendo (Patriots) happen despite the presence of peacekeeping troops.

Since March 2022, the territories of Rutshuru, Masisi and Nyiragongo fell into security turmoil after the M23 Movement rebels led by Bertrand Bisimwa and General Sultan Makenga launched a war against the government. The majority of positions were conquered by rebels in fierce fighting.

The DRC government accuses Rwanda of backing M23, but Rwanda and M23 strongly deny it. The rebels claim to fight against bad leadership in DRC based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.

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