Uganda forces exit completes EACRF withdrawal from East DRC
The Uganda contingent deployed as part of the regional force in Democratic Republic of Congo completed the withdraw of its troops from the violence-plagues North Kivu, Eastern Province on December 14, ahead of next week’s elections and nearly one month to the January 7 deadline that the regional chiefs of defence forces set.
The exit of Uganda troops completes the withdraw of the regional force that included troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan, deployed under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF in November last year.
However, the DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi did not extend the force’s mandate beyond its expiry on December 8.
Read:East African force begins DRC exit
The last troops of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF under the 27th and 9th battalions and their military equipment crossed the Bunagana border post on Thursday, ending eight months of peacekeeping in Eastern Congo where they were deployed as a buffer between the Congolese forces and the M23 rebels.
In November 2022, Kenya was the first country to send its troops into Congo, and also became the first to withdraw its 300 soldiers starting December 3, followed by South Sudan, while nearly 1,000 Burundian soldiers also left the DRC on December 4, Burundi military said.
The withdrawal is in line with the directive of the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the EAC heads of state held on November 24 in Arusha, Tanzania, where the decision not to renew the EACRF mandate beyond December 8, 2023, was made.
Thereafter, the extraordinary summit of the EAC chiefs of defence forces held on the December 6 2023 in Arusha, guided that the EACRF withdraws its forces out of DRC by January 7, 2024.
Uganda commenced its withdrawal of the peacekeepers from the mission area on December 8 by moving non-essential items, before withdrawing troops and military tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, its contingent commander Col Walaka Hyeroba said.
Read:Uganda army under EACRF begins withdrawal
“I have pulled out every soldier with all the equipment that I entered with in DRC” he said, adding that his troops executed their mandate well. “We were also provided the authority to protect the local people, a job that we did excellently as life had gone back to normal.
Col Heryoba explained that before EACRF went to eastern Congo, business in the busy towns of Kiwanja in Rutshuru territory had come to a standstill due to the conflict, but the regional forces “ensured that business gets to normal as if there was no conflict.”