Conclusion of EAC Force Mandate in DRC Raises Questions About Departure Timeline

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In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the mandate of the East African Community (EAC) force officially ends on Friday, December 8. Several hundred Kenyan soldiers have already left the DRC over the past weekend, concluding their swift one-year mission. They were the first to arrive officially in the North Kivu province, and now they are the first to depart.

Approximately 300 Kenyan soldiers left Goma for Nairobi during the night of Saturday, December 2, to Sunday, December 3. However, since then, no details have been provided regarding when soldiers from the South Sudanese, Ugandan, and Burundian armies, and the remaining Kenyan contingent will leave the DRC.

Some Ugandan and Burundian soldiers have been authorized to stay in Congolese territory, operating under bilateral military cooperation agreements against groups like the ADF and initially against Burundian armed groups based in the DRC. Since early October, Burundian soldiers are reported to be involved in operations in North Kivu alongside the Congolese army against M23 rebels, who are allegedly supported by Rwanda. This participation, however, has been denied by the Burundian army.

“The Defeat is on the EAC’s Side”
During the latest regional summit in Arusha, Tanzania, the heads of state acknowledged Kinshasa’s decision not to renew the mandate. Although the mission was deployed to end the conflict with the M23 rebellion, which lasted just over a year, its overall impact is viewed as mixed by analysts. Onesphore Sematumba, an expert on the Great Lakes region for the International Crisis Group, suggests that the presence “helped halt the M23’s advance” and even achieved “partial withdrawal.”

Soukaina Sghir

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