The East African Community (EAC) Regional Force started to withdraw from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Kenyan, and Uganda contingent, part of the EAC Regional Force, departed from the Goma airport in the eastern North Kivu province, following the DRC authorities’ decision to deem the regional force ineffective.
After a summit held on Nov. 25, the EAC officially announced that the DRC “would not renew the mandate of the regional force beyond Dec. 8, 2023.”
Since November 2022, this regional force, consisting of Ugandan, Burundian and South Sudanese elements, has been stationed in the eastern part of the DRC in response to renewed conflicts between the DRC military and the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi intends to replace the EAC Regional Force with a force deployed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). However, details about this deployment remain unclear, with plans indicating a deployment within a few months without specific clarification.
The withdrawal of the EAC Regional Force coincides with the DRC’s preparations for presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for Dec. 20. Notably, several areas in eastern DRC, still under rebel occupation, will be excluded from these elections due to inadequate voter registration.