DRC: EAC Force withdrawal begins with first Kenyan group

The East African Community (EAC) force began its departure from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday (December 3rd). A first group of about 5 Kenyan soldiers left Goma at 00:<> a.m. local time for Nairobi.

An escort of Kenyan and Congolese soldiers stands guard at Goma airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on November 15, 2022. AFP - ALEXIS HUGUET

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Nairobi, Albane Thirouard

On 24 November, at the end of a summit of the East African community in Tanzania, the DRC announced that it would not renew the mandate of the EAC force, present in North Kivu, which expires on 8 December while the force is highly criticised.

This is a first departure in line with what was announced after the EAC summit last November, according to the Kenyan side. The Kenyan army chief of staff was in Goma on Friday (November 2nd) where he congratulated his troops for their work in North Kivu. He called on them to remain "vigilant" as the force enters a "transition period".

The first East African soldiers arrived in Goma just over a year ago to deal with the resurgence of the M23 rebellion, but the regional force has been heavily criticised in the DRC. Kinshasa accuses her of failing to solve the problem for which she was deployed and blames her for failing to force the rebels to lay down their arms.

Today, fighting continues between the M23, the Congolese army and self-defense militias. A Kenyan EAC soldier was killed by shrapnel last October. In order not to leave a security vacuum after the withdrawal of the East African force, Kinshasa is counting on the deployment of troops from SADC, the Southern African Community, but their arrival has not yet materialized.

The timetable for the further withdrawal of EAC troops from the DRC has not been communicated.

In addition, Kinshasa has also called for the "accelerated" departure, from January 2024, of the UN mission, MONUSCO, which has been present in the DRC since 1999. It includes about 14,000 peacekeepers, but is also accused of ineffectiveness.

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