The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Félix Tshisekedi has threatened to expel East African Community (EAC) regional forces if its efforts do not yield by June this year.
East African Community (EAC) formed a military force to respond to the crisis last June, with Kenyan soldiers deploying in November followed this year by Burundian, Ugandan and South Sudanese contingents.
Speaking at a press briefing in Botswana, Tshisekedi said the EAC force’s mandate ends in June and if we feel that the mandate was not fulfilled will return them and thank them for having tried. We have the confirmation of the coming of SADC troops which we will have to put in place.
He said there is cohabitation that we have noticed between the contingent of the East African Community and the rebels.
“That is a genuine problem when it comes to the mission assigned, and also compels to ask, what is the purpose of the mission?” he said, claiming that except for the Burundi troops, others “are now living together with M23,”he said.
His comments come a day after a special summit of the 16-bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC), held in Namibia, resolved to deploy forces “to restore peace and security in eastern DRC”.
In November 2022, Kenya’s Parliament approved the deployment of nearly 1,000 soldiers for a new regional force in DRC. The approval followed EAC Heads of State Conclave on Inter-Congolese Dialogue deliberation to jointly deploy in Congo. The soldiers later flew into Goma from Nairobi to fight rebels in DRC.
Last month, Uganda’s contingent of the East African regional force joined Kenyan troops to foster peace in the war torn Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC. Uganda will as well deploy 1,000 soldiers as part of the regional military force.
The North Kivu province is occupied by different militia groups including the M23 rebels who are fighting government forces and causing civilians to flee.
Last month, EAC Regional Force Commander Major-General Jeff Nyagah exited the mission in the DRC due to an aggravated threat to personal safety and systematic plan to frustrate efforts of the force.
Gen Nyagah said there was an attempt to intimidate his security at his former home by deploying foreign military contractors, who placed monitoring devices, flew drones and conducted physical surveillance at his home earlier this year.
“There has been a well-orchestrated and financed negative media campaign targeted at my personality and false accusations for the force’s complacency on the handling of the M23 label group,” he said.